Nobody is really thinking about Christmas right now, I know, but something happened recently that does have some time sensitivity and I wanted to tell you all about it.
For about 20 years I've been involved with a local charity called Adopt-A-Family, Inc. The program has been around for more than 25 years, and for the last several I have been serving as its Program Coordinator. A group of about 20, we work each year to locate people in the community to provide for needy children at Christmas. Last year, during the second week of December, Adopt-A-Family, Inc. was able to deliver gifts of toys and clothing to 2,163 children in 1,017 families.
You're going to hear more about us as it gets closer to Christmas but this is about my friend, Joe, a donor and volunteer for AAF. About two months ago I got a telephone call from Joe. He's a biker; goes by the name "Santa" . If you saw him, you'd know where the nickname came from....longish white hair and beard to match.
Joe has been helping us out for a few years and takes his appearance as Santa seriously and really enjoys seeing the kids at Christmas. His telephone message to me that day said that his doctor has given him only a few months to live, and he wanted to set up a fund to benefit AAF after he's gone. He asked me to meet him at a local credit union to set it up.
The morning of our appointment Joe was already there with Frank, an officer in their motorcycle club, who was to be the signature on their side of the account. I would be the signature for AAF. Joe had it all figured out how he wanted this to work, and the credit union was willing to arrange it.
I have to say it was a little uncomfortable at first to talk about this as Joe sat there hooked up to his portable oxygen bottle that he needs 24 hours a day now but he seemed totally calm and at peace with what he was doing. As a matter of fact, when I asked if he had given up his bike, he told me he had just come back from a 2800-mile motorcycle ride to the Smoky Mountains with his oxygen tank on board. Talk about living life to the end! I had to admire what I was seeing and hearing.
Joe's plan was for the club to have a memorial ride in his honor after he is gone expressly to fund this account. The proceeds raised from the ride will be placed in an account titled "Santa's Memorial for Adopt-A-Family" From then on, every year on the day after Thanksgiving, I am to meet Frank at the credit union and we will withdraw 10% of the balance from the account to be used for the program that year. There was also talk about having other benefit rides and fundraisers to put money into the account when possible. We were there that day getting it all started.
So the documents were completed and signed. Joe, Frank and I walked out to say goodbye. I hugged Joe hard and told him I never wanted to see that account funded beyond the $100 he had just deposited and that he better be here this December to volunteer during Distribution Week. But I know that's probably not going to happen. When I drove away I was a little teary thinking about the good our program seems to bring out in people but nobody better than my friend Joe.