The Christmas Spirit All Year

Christmas JoyAs a writer it is easy to spend a great deal of time “in my head” and by myself.  There’s nothing like a flu-like bug to snap you back to reality.  Once I hit the tail end of the misfortune, my mind began to wander to the upcoming Christmas holiday.  I thought about three people I know that demonstrate the Christmas Spirit all year long.

The first is my friend and colleague, Bill Foussard.  Bill is one of the hardest working guys in the hotel industry.  But it is his unbelievable generosity and heart that amaze me.  He spends a good deal of time during the year organizing a Meals on Wheels event for Thanksgiving that feeds around 20,000 people.  Somehow he manages to get donations to cover it all.  Then the next month he hosts a party with Santa for seniors at his Best Western White Bear Country Inn in White Bear Lake, MN.  Please, Bill, keep up the good work.

The next person is also someone that I am lucky enough to consider a friend.  Chuck Horton, from a well-known boxing family in Duluth, MN, started a program of outreach through his gym and boxing instruction.  He never turned away a youth who came to him wanting to learn the sport.  Sometimes the local judges sent young men to Chuck instead of to a juvenile center for “rehabilitation.”  He took them into the gym and under the collective wing of the other boxers to help guide the youth to better choices.  Although he has handed his gym over to former professional boxer Zach “Jungle Boy” Walters, Chuck’s undying spirit still thrives at the gym and in Duluth boxing.

The last person is someone I got to meet and interview recently.  As a Vietnam Veteran, Brad Bennett spent decades fighting the memories and guilt of a soldier.  He was involved in the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) group in the Duluth area, and met a Vietnamese man who escaped the horrors of the Vietnam conflict by fishing boat.  The man was sponsored and raised by a family in Duluth.  Upon meeting Bennett, the two formed a bond and planned a trip back to Vietnam where Bennett would donate thousands of dollars he raised through his local radio show.  His kindness, donations, and return trips have helped to rebuild a village that he once helped decimate.  God bless your gentle soul, Brad.

I am proud to know these three men.  I am also proud to say I know others who do similar acts of kindness all year long.  That is the true embodiment of the Christmas Spirit, and may we all learn from these wonderful folks.  Merry Christmas!

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