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Donna Barker

Random Acts of Christmas

I’m not sure, but it seems like the Christmas spirit, at least the part about good will to all mankind, may have gotten an earlier start than usual this year.

Maybe we have Larry DePrimo to thank for that, at least in part. DePrimo is the New York City Police officer who bought a pair of all-weather boots last week for a barefoot homeless man in Times Square. A passerby, Jennifer Foster, snapped the picture of DePrimo on bended knee before the homeless man as the man unwrapped his new boots. The photo was posted on the NYPD Facebook page and has gotten thousands of likes, attracting the attention of  network television stations and newspapers around the country.

One of the comments which has stayed with me the most about DePrimo and the homeless man came from Foster when she said the police officer had no idea anyone would ever know about his gift to the homeless man; he was just doing an act of kindness to someone who needed it.

I suppose those could be the best acts of kindness, those that are done simply and quietly to meet a need, regardless of any personal recognition.

I was driving home from Peoria the other day, listening to Christmas music on the radio. In between songs, the announcer talked about a holiday project called Random Acts of Christmas, which the radio station is sponsoring. The idea behind the project is for people to nominate someone, a non-family member, who could use some kind of help this Christmas. By making the need known, then hopefully someone would step forward to help meet that need. The guidelines for the program are a bit complicated, but it still sounded like a good way to celebrate the giving spirit of Christmas.

After the announcer finished his talk about the Random Acts of Christmas project, I turned down the radio, listened to the silence and wondered how often, if ever, that I have done “Random Acts of Christmas.” I wondered if Random Acts of Christmas were somehow bigger or deeper, or quieter and more anonymous, than other acts of kindness, the regular gift giving which I may or may not do during the rest of the year.

On a very practical level, I’m sure that Random Acts of Christmas start with giving to the local toy drives each year, donating to the food pantries or giving some money for a special cause or need announced at church. But when I think of Larry DePrimo and the homeless man, I wonder if I’m supposed to not only do the traditional Random Acts of Christmas but to look also for the unexpected opportunity.

I don’t know for sure what Random Acts of Christmas will look like, whether they will be obvious encounters or something that will almost slip by me if I’m too lost in my own little world. I’m pretty sure Random Acts of Christmas will be different from person to person. I’m also sure they don’t have to cost money. But then again, maybe an unexpected anonymous gift of money is just the right random act of Christmas.

Maybe Christmas is supposed to be a bit bigger, a bit more random this year.

BCR Senior Staff Writer Donna Barker can be reached at dbarker@bcrnews.com.

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