Monday, December 20, 2010

The Christmas Gift.....

It was Sunday and I was watching TV. One of the featured stories was an interview and as I listened,I knew this story would be the one I'd retell for this Christmas week's blog

The interviewee was a 91-year old woman named Helen who was recalling when, as a 14-year old during the Depression, she and her family barely had enough to eat. This story was far too common during the Great Depression which started in the U.S.A., spread throughout the world, and lasted about a 10 years.

In the Depression, there were no economic safety nets - no food stamps, no unemployment insurance and no Social Security. Hard working employees and farmers saw their income, if they could keep their job, reduced to a pittance. Many people went hungry, lost their homes, and gave their children over to orphanages so that at least their children could have food and shelter.

Helen's own family regularly ran out of food, cut cardboard for the holes in their shoes and did without warm clothing in their town of Canton, Ohio. One day close to Christmas, Helen read an ad in the neighbor's borrowed hometown newspaper.

Someone named "B. Virdot" was offering to help needy families
in time for Christmas. This benefactor asked only that letters be written explaining their plight. Helen was the youngest person to do so. Her letter was chosen!

When Helen received the largess of $5.00, she bought clothes for her siblings, Christmas dinner for her family and new shoes for herself. What a Christmas!

It would be 77 years later when Helen found out who her benefactor was and then only because the identity of "B. Virdot" was discovered by Ted Gup, the donor's grandson.

Gup was going through his deceased grandfather's old suitcase when he came upon letters written to "B. Virdot." There were also 150 cashed checks. Then, Gup found the yellowed newspaper ad and realized that it was his grandfather, Sam Stone, who used the amalgam of his own daughters' names to create "B. Viradot." (Barbara, Virgina and Dorothy)

Sam Stone, an orthodox Jewish immigrant who had come to this country, learned English and worked his way up from menial and harsh physical jobs to owning his own chain of shops, had given 150 Christian families a Christmas gift.

May your holiday blessings be shared with a sense of compassion and gratitude.


  1. What a wonderful story of sharing without expecting fame or honors. I imagine $750 during the Depression was a lot to give away. Marge

  2. They mention Canton, Ohio in this story. Canton Ohio is my hometown. interesting. thanks for the great emails. Conniez

  3. What a lovely story ...if only everyone could find it in their hearts to be so charitable. Jackie

  4. Happy Soltice!!!

    This blog brought tears to my eyes. Many good things go without fanfare, and I think we humans are better than we sometimes think. Connie

  5. What a lovely story! Thanks for sharing. Jan

  6. That was a lovely story. I hope these secret activities are still going on. It makes the world a better place. Thanks, and Merry Christmas. Justine

  7. I think they are still going on. I heard on NPR that people can send letters to Santa Claus and the USPO will make their wishes known to secret donors.

  8. Thank you for the Christmas message. Sookjae

  9. Thanks for the Christmas story-very moving! Jane