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Old 12-22-2007, 12:08 PM   #16
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Another great one-Car Santa gives needy families cars for Christmas


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Old 12-22-2007, 04:05 PM   #17
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Originally posted by MrsSpringsteen
KANSAS CITY, Missouri (AP) -- Susan Dahl had spent four months homeless in Colorado and just been on a harrowing 10-hour bus trip through sleet and snow. Hungry and broke, all she wanted to do was get back to family in Minnesota.

That's when a tall man in a red coat and red hat sat next to her at the downtown bus station, talked to her quietly and then slipped her $100 on that recent December afternoon.

The man was doing the work of Larry Stewart, Kansas City's original Secret Santa, who anonymously wandered city streets doling out $100 bills to anyone who looked like they needed it.

Stewart died of cancer at age 58 earlier this year, but his legacy lives on.

"He said `Here's a $100 bill ... and this is in memory of Larry Stewart,"' said Dahl.

During about a quarter century, Stewart quietly gave out more than $1.3 million to people in laundromats, diners, bus stations, shelters and thrift stores, saying it was his way of giving back at Christmas for all the wealth and generosity he had received in his lifetime.

For years, Stewart did not want his name known or want thanks or applause. But last December he acknowledged who he was and used his last few months, while battling cancer, to press his message of kindness toward others. He even trained some friends in the ways of Secret Santa.

This Christmas, a friend who told Stewart in the hospital that he would carry on for him is out on the streets, handing out $100 bills, each one stamped with "Larry Stewart, Secret Santa."

Between Kansas City and several other cities this Christmas, the new Secret Santa will give away $75,000 of his own money, mostly in $100 bills.

"I didn't want to be a Secret Santa," said the man, a business consultant who lives in the Kansas City area. "I wanted to give Larry money. But last year, he said I had to hand it out myself. So I did, and I got hooked."

This new Secret Santa talks about Larry Stewart to just about everyone he encounters. "Have you ever heard of a man named Larry Stewart?" he asks before handing out $100 or more.

Depending on who he's talking to, the new Secret Santa might say Stewart was a man who believed in making people happy by giving them money they didn't have to ask for, apply for or wait in line for.

"There was this fella named Larry Stewart," he tells a man in the bus station. "He was an old friend of mine. He was called Secret Santa, and every year he would find a few people who might need a little money and he would ask that you pass on the kindness."

People respond differently to the gesture. Some cry. Some scream. A rare few even say "No thanks."

Others take the money and offer their own gifts. like Robert Young, who was homeless and had only 20 cents in his pocket. When Secret Santa gave him $200, Young, 50, took out an old notebook and ripped out a song he had written.

"It's yours now," he told Secret Santa, who thanked Young, and carefully tucked the pages into his pocket.

The new Secret Santa has also started a Web site, and is trying to recruit other Secret Santas across the country. "Larry's dream was for a Secret Santa in every city," Kansas City's Santa said.

There are now a couple apprentices, with more candidates turning up all the time. But, he says, you don't have to be willing to hand out money to be a Secret Santa.

"Anyone can be a Secret Santa," he says. "You don't have to give away $100. You can give away kindness. Help someone."

Susan Dahl, right, cries after Secret Santa, left, handed her a $100 bill last week.

This was in our local paper, too. Dang near made me cry (as my son says, "How hard is *that*???"). It is wonderful to know that there are still good people in this world!

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Old 12-26-2007, 07:23 AM   #18
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Texans' Green, Simmons reach out to Houston family
Posted: Tuesday December 25, 2007

The best play in the NFL this year involved a perfect pass, a great catch, huge celebrations, and even tears.

It was the day when Jason Simmons and Ahman Green of the Houston Texans facilitated a $50,000 down payment for ReginaFoster, a single mother who is raising an autistic child named Reggie.

The idea to help a family in need came out of a jersey swap. When Green signed with the Texans during the offseason, Simmons was already wearing jersey No. 30, the number Green had worn since his college days at Nebraska. Green called Simmons and asked if he could have it. Simmons said yes, but under one condition: Instead of paying Simmons for the number in cash, cars or jewelry -- as often happens in professional sports leagues -- they would find a local family and offer assistance.

Out of a list of candidates last summer they picked Foster, who was able to move her son from a small apartment into a larger house in a Houston suburb. Green donated $20,000, Simmons $5,000 and Texans owner Bob McNair matched them.

During a trying NFL year off the field, the benevolence of the Texans provided a sense of balance. Simmons, Green and Foster showed that the widening gap between professional athletes and the general public is not always impossible to bridge.

"It was something that pro sports needed, not just football," Green said in a recent telephone interview. "You hear a story like that, it makes you want to pass the word along."

Green, Simmons and Foster have done their part, spending large chunks of their time throughout the year retelling their story. I caught Green one afternoon in the Texans training room. Simmons interrupted his off-day at home for a chat. Foster took a break from her work day to talk about the pride of being a home owner and the benefits to her son, who now has a backyard of his own.

"Children with autism basically need a structured life, where everything is the same," said Foster, whose new home is closer to Reggie's school. "He has a schedule that he has to follow when he gets home."

Last month, the Texans held a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Foster home, and the family officially moved in. In more good fortune, her mortgage payment is less than her old rent payment, and she can continue in her job at a loan company.

Foster hasn't wasted any time settling in. She hosted the family's Thanksgiving dinner for the first time in her life as relatives from all over Texas filled the home for turkey, stuffing and sweet potato pie.

Foster admitted that she felt an unexpected pride being able to host more than a dozen family members in her new house. Her old place couldn't have held them.

"My mother and grandmother were crying because they know how long I've been struggling," she said. "It was very emotional."

The dinner was such a big hit that the family has decided not to wait until next Thanksgiving to gather at the home again.

"We'll also have Christmas dinner here," Foster said.

The players, meanwhile, continue to feel the good vibes of making a positive change for a mother and her son. Simmons, a defensive back, said he has two new friends in the Fosters. Green, a running back, is already planning to send a Christmas card.

"You don't get a lot of opportunities to help out a complete stranger, to make a change that might help them for the rest of their lives," Green said. "We didn't think it would be this big of an impact. We didn't know that having a child with autism, how much it affects him being in one place and helps to benefit his growth."

Simmons said he feels better about helping the Fosters than any tackle he has ever made.

"No one is going to remember Jason Simmons the football player," he said. "If someone can remember Jason Simmons the man, it's even better."

The Fosters, no doubt, will never forget.

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