The snow's falling, the holiday sales are in full swing, and everybody's putting Irish cream liqueur into every drink imaginable. The holiday season is here and there's no denying it. It's the most wonderful time of the year.
Unfortunately, it's easy to get disillusioned by all the tinsel and smiles and Christmas albums blasting out of every speaker in every store. Sometimes, it's important to remember this time of year is supposed to be about doing good things for people and not about getting an Xbox One.
Here are a few people who spend their holidays making the world a better place –
We've all got a very specific image in mind when we think of a biker: gruff, inarticulate, as likely to break your nose as look at you. Well, Henry Sudduth lived that life for years before he decided there were better things in life. Once he was the terror of the streets of Madison, Wisconsin, riding through town clad in leather, eager to pick a fight. Now he spends his winter months sporting a beard and a big red coat, and he's giving out presents instead of punches.
Born into an abusive family, Sudduth ran with an outlaw biker gang for years before his marriage turned his life around. Today, his present-giving network gives food and toys to thousands of children. He accepts no money for his good deeds, insisting that giving kids the experiences he never had as a child is all the reward he needs.
"Layaway" is a service offered by some retailers where those strapped for cash can pay off larger bundles over a few weeks, rather than blowing all the money at once. Unfortunately, sometimes customers have to opt out of the transaction midway through. It's a sad situation for any Christmas shopper with eager children back home.
Greg Parady decided he had to do something about it. While picking up some bicycles from a local Walmart, Parady noticed a sizable crowd of customers coming in to cancel their layaways to save cash. Parady started paying the bills himself, spending roughly $21,000 on gifts for 76 strangers before the afternoon was over. His charity has inspired similar acts all across the country.
Normally, young children can be a hassle. Mikey Malek is the exception. When the six-year old discovered he had unopened toys in his room, he insisted his parents help him donate them to Toys for Tots. "I just want everyone to have a nice Christmas," he said.
This led to the driven little boy emptying his house of every unused plaything he could find. His actions made national news and resulted in a bump in Toys for Tots donations.
What would you do if you won the lottery? Get a new car? Take that Caribbean cruise you've always dreamed about? Tom Crist had all these opportunities and more when he walked away with a staggering $40 million jackpot last May. But instead of splurging on a private island, Crist has pledged to donate each and every penny.
Crist says he was lucky enough to be comfortably retired when his big win came. His wife's death from cancer a few years back has caused him to dedicate himself to charitable acts. His winnings have hugely appreciated by each charity he has given to.
A household name in his native state of Kansas, Larry Stewart passed away in 2007. He leaves behind a legacy of selflessness few can hope to match. After a run of unemployment in the seventies, Stewart received a free meal from a kindly diner owner. This taught him the value of small acts of charity.
Over the years Stewart built a sizable fortune and began spending his winter months walking through communities of homeless people and handing out thousands of dollars. Though his activities quickly became widely known he remained anonymous for almost thirty years, outing himself shortly before his death. In the wake of his passing, many charities have sprung up to continue his legacy.
Top Photo Credit: Pierre Metivier
via photopin cc