Christmas is a time for giving, not just to our friends and family, but to those who need it most.
And today, we’re celebrating a few people who’ve been doing just that. Amidst the hardships we’ve faced this year, we’ve also seen a few modern-day Santas—people who have brought smiles, hope, and gratitude to others around them. They weren’t dressed in red or carrying sacks of toys, and you may not have even noticed them at first. But they were there, doing whatever they could to help those who needed a little boost, and we found their stories an incredible inspiration.
Read on for the true stories of people who have given a gift to the world in 2012.
Santa’s Fluffy Reindeer
Glen Campbell said it best: Christmas is for children. That makes this holiday season especially hard for the families and friends of the 20 children lost in the recent shootings in Newtown, Connecticut. And, unfortunately, there’s nothing money could buy that could brighten their holiday season.
That’s why these Santas deployed their furry reindeer—comfort dogs to bring a little love and joy to the families affected by the recent Sandy Hook shootings. Therapy dogs, service dogs, and just some pet dogs were brought to memorial services for the victims to help comfort those grieving. The dogs have a funny way of knowing who is hurting the most, and were putting smiles on the faces of people who hadn’t smiled for a week.
Christmas Spirit After the Storm
Hurricane Sandy left many without a whole lot this year. And when your life has been upended, it can sure feel hard to muster up feelings of holiday cheer.
Enter this secret Santa, a man from Missouri who has made it a holiday tradition to visit cities and towns that need a little extra holiday cheer and hand out $100 bills to strangers found in thrift shops, laundromats, and soup kitchens. This year, he chose Staten Island, NY—one of the areas hardest hit by Sandy. While many of the people he approached appreciated the money, the real gift he gave was a spark of hope.
A Not-So-Secret Santa
OK, so this Santa does wear a red suit and carry a bag of toys. And while we’re pretty sure he’s not the real guy, he does make it pretty hard to tell the difference.
Brooklyn political consultant Michael Sciaraffo has spent his December days and nights dressing up as Santa, filling a sack to the brim with gifts, and heading to New York neighborhoods still devastated by Hurricane Sandy. His mission? To play “Sandy Claus,” bringing new toys to the kids who lost everything in the storm. Check out this slideshow, and prepare for goosebumps.
Giving a Park
Joshua Smith, a nine-year-old from Detroit’s west side, loved his neighborhood park, and was devastated when his mom told him he couldn’t play there anymore. There was a budget crisis, she explained, and the city didn’t have enough money to cut grass or clear the trash.
Joshua didn’t want his friends to have to go without a park, so this summer, he set up a lemonade stand, vowing to raise enough money for the Parks Department to clean up and re-open the park. And he did—over $3,000, in fact. And because of his work, he’s given his neighbors a place to play this year.
#26acts (and All of You)
In the wake of the Sandy Hook shootings, NBC News Correspondent Ann Curry asked that everyone perform 26 random acts of kindness to memorialize the victims. The movement quickly went viral, thanks to the hashtag #26acts.
Our proposal? Don’t let the acts of kindness stop at 26, and don’t let the spirit of giving disappear after the holiday season is over. Make it a goal to give more in 2013. It doesn’t necessarily take a lot of money or resources—it just takes doing what you can to help someone out. And if we all pitch in, the world is sure to be a jollier place, this season and all year round.
Merry Christmas from all of us at The Daily Muse!