Column – Anonymous deeds inspire

Published 4:49 pm Tuesday, December 20, 2022

This Christmas, I’m grateful for the selfless among us who give to their community and fellow man through small acts of kindness with no desire for public recognition.

They’ll never have a building named after them, or even see their picture in the newspaper, because they’re too humble to take any credit, averse, even, to the spotlight.

In my daily pedestrian commute up Wharf Hill and Main Street to the Times office, I often encounter the same man picking up trash along the curbs and sidewalks. We’ve exchanged pleasantries several times in recent months, and I’d always thank him for his service.

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On Monday morning, when he braved sub-freezing temperatures to pick up trash from a busy holiday weekend downtown, I stopped for a deeper conversation. I learned that he’s a Times subscriber and county resident who drives into town for morning exercise and trash pickup.
I asked him for permission to take his picture and let the community know about his good deed. He politely declined.

Besides, he noted, the litterbugs might be emboldened if they know he’s picking up behind them. God bless him for his service.

Times reader Wendy Baranak was walking in Windsor Castle Park when she came across a bench decorated for Christmas with a red mailbox labeled “Letters to Santa.” There’s even a clipboard for those who want to write their letters on the spot. Baranak didn’t know who was responsible, but she snapped a photo and sent it to us, hoping the person would get some recognition.

The next day, coincidentally, the sister of the person responsible emailed me to make us aware of the bench and mailbox. I asked her for her sister’s name, which she provided before quickly noting that her sister would rather just be known as “Santa’s Elf Sandy.”

And so it is. Thanks to Santa’s Elf Sandy for giving park visitors a direct line to St. Nick.


Steve Stewart is publisher of The Smithfield Times. His email address is