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Christmas Meaning: Giving When It Hurts

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Jobless father gives generously, even as his bank account shrinks

By Chris Levister –

Larry Eugene Dunbar knows something about intense and stressful situations.

Before the out-of-work Redlands engineer graduated from Ohio University, he managed to survive some of Cleveland’s meanest most unforgiving streets. Dunbar served as a medic and firefighter making less than $25,000.

Larry Eugene Dunbar of Redlands lost his job as an engineer in June. He and his family continue giving to the Salvation Army and other Inland charities even when it hurts.“Running into blazing buildings I saw some of the most inhumane conditions; chronic homelessness, domestic violence, gang fights, rape, drug use, muggings, scams and prostitution. By the time I started college I’d seen it all.”

That was until his 11-year-old sister Eliza died suddenly from a rare brain cancer.

“Her passing rocked my world,” he recalls. “God wasn’t supposed to take her before he took me.” Dunbar lost focus dropped out of college and for a year languished in and out of homeless shelters until he met a paraplegic man who’d lost his entire family in a tragic auto accident.

“After hearing my story, he gave me a $100 and put me on a bus back to Ohio University.”

What he learned from that experience says Dunbar is “there’s always someone worse off than you are. For Dunbar, his wife Sharmane and their three children, charitable giving means giving even when it hurts.

“It has always been very important to us to teach our children the “true” meaning of Christmas and with that said we usually try to do something for those in worst shape that we are.”

Normally the Dunbar’s “adopt” a family every year. This year however, has been a whole other story.

Like many others, with the economy failing as it is, the Dunbar’s are having an extremely hard time.

They had to ask a local food bank for milk, bread and other staples.

But in the depressing situation the Dunbar’s find themselves in, it only makes them want to try and give more. They decided that although the family did not have extra money to “adopt” a family this year, or buy new toys for toy drives they could still find a special way to help those that may not be as fortunate as they are.

Consistent with his beliefs on charitable giving, since late November every Friday Dunbar rolls up a wad of cash from his unemployment check and stuffs it in an Inland Salvation Army Red Kettle.

“Give to those less fortunate even when you’re having hard times yourself,” he said.

“My children asked to give away their toys that they no longer play with to those who need them, so everyone can have a Christmas. I am blessed at being able to watch my daughter wanting to offer her strollers, dolls and dress up clothes saying that some other girl might love them as much as she did.”

“And my oldest son willing to give up his GameBoy, Air Guitar and other toys he has collected since he was young that he loves, but is at an age that he no longer plays with them! Even my three year old has been helping hold up the bags and shaking his little head yes or no on whether or not he still really wants to keep something.”

“To my amazement I feel like this year we are helping more than we ever have even though we don’t have the income we have had in the past. I feel more blessed today than I have in a long time. Blessed in the fact that my children really grasp the concept of giving and not something they just say they understand.”

In the end it’s really simple says Dunbar. “I believe the more you give the more comes back to you.”


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