A Yuletide Gift of Kindness

An anonymous benefactor in Canton, Ohio placed a newspaper ad near Christmas in 1933 and asked for people in need to contact him. At the height of the Great Depression, many were in dire straits and responded by mail. The mysterious "B. Virdot" sent $5 (a generous sum at the time) to 150 families. Virdot never revealed his identity. Then in 2008, Ted Gup unearthed those letters and found out that his grandfather was the man who handed out the money.
His real name was Sam Stone. "B. Virdot" was a combination of his daughters' names—Barbara, Virginia (my mother) and Dorothy. My grandmother had mentioned something about his largesse to my mother when she was a young adult, but it had remained a family secret. Now, 30 years after her father's death, she was comfortable letting the secret out.

Collectively, the letters offer a wrenching vision of the Great Depression and of the struggle within the souls of individuals, many too proud to speak of their anguish even to their loved ones. Some sought B. Virdot's generosity not for themselves, but for their neighbors, friends or relatives. Stirred by their words, I set out to find what became of them, tracking down their descendants, wondering if the $5 gifts had made any difference. From each family, I received permission to use the letter.

Read some of the stories of those families at Smithsonian magazine. Link

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This is a fantastic post. I followed the link and read the whole story. It was very well written and inspiring. Sam Stone was clearly a man with a very good idea of true philanthropy.
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When you become an adult and have children of your own, you learn how much more satisfying it is to give than to receive. Most of us have received our fair share already, and another gift would be incrementally meaningless. Yet there is real suffering out there right now, people hanging their heads and crying behind closed doors. People are suffering in humiliating, helpless silence, people who want to give of themselves but lack resources and are too proud to ask. That makes it all the harder to help. But if you know of anyone who might be nearing the precipice, help them any way you can, even if only by encouraging and complimenting them. Show them that there is somebody out there who knows they exist and who actually, honestly cares. Your time on this earth is limited. Make it count.
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