Posts Tagged ‘helping hand’

The Hero of Canton* Is Made of Happy

Monday, December 22nd, 2008

Here’s the thing. I know images are powerful and having one here would grab more readers. But I hope this article can stand on its own. It’s a good one.

IN the weeks just before Christmas of 1933 — 75 years ago — a mysterious offer appeared in The Repository, the daily newspaper here. It was addressed to all who were suffering in that other winter of discontent known as the Great Depression. The bleakest of holiday seasons was upon them, and the offer promised modest relief to those willing to write in and speak of their struggles. In return, the donor, a “Mr. B. Virdot,” pledged to provide a check to the neediest to tide them over the holidays.

The writer found out who the mysterious benefactor was, through a case of papers he got from his mother. It was his grandfather. The case was full of letters from people.

A lot of people wrote him letters asking for help. 75 people received money from this mystery man. They also wrote him thank you letters. Here is one of them.

A father wrote: “It was put to good use paying for two pairs of shoes for my girls and other little necessities. I hope some day I have the pleasure of knowing to whom we are indebted for this very generous gift.”

That was from George W. Monnot, who had once owned a successful Ford dealership but whose reluctance to lay off his salesmen hastened his own financial collapse, his granddaughter told me.

He also acted in other instances to help people.

His yuletide gift was not to be his only such gesture. In the same black suitcase were receipts hinting at other anonymous acts of kindness. The year before the United States entered World War II, for instance, he sent hundreds of wool overcoats to British soldiers. In the pocket of each was a handwritten note, unsigned, urging them not to give in to despair and expressing America’s support.

Like many in his generation, my grandfather believed in hard work, and disdained handouts. In 1981, at age 93, he died driving himself to the office, crashing while trying to beat a rising drawbridge. But he could never ignore the brutal reality of times when work was simply not to be had and self-reliance reached its limits. He sought no credit for acts of conscience. He saw them as the debt we owe one another and ourselves.

via Op-Ed Contributor – Hard Times, a Helping Hand –

Thank you, Ted Gup, for writing this editorial about your grandfather. May his memory live on through the legacy of the people who were helped by him, and who also turn around to help others in need. These are hard times, but this is when we should most think to reach out to help others in greater need. Thank you for this reminder and thank you for such an inspiring tale.

*Note: I assume we nerds can unite on this little reference here. Oh, yeah, the guy is from Canton, Ohio. 🙂