By Gary Brown | Canton Repository | November 25, 2010
Three Stark County men have pledged to give $100 gifts — a total of $15,000 — to 150 families and individuals who have been hit especially hard by the economic times. They are patterning their generosity after a Canton businessman — known for decades only as B. Virdot — who in 1933 made gifts of $5 to 150 area families whose finances were strapped by the Great Depression.
And, as was the case with the man who inspired them, the trio of benefactors wishes to remain anonymous. The givers will be known to the recipients of their gifts by the revived name of B. Virdot.
“The Stone family is delighted that in another time of need there is another B. Virdot to reach out and help,” said Ted Gup, the former Canton resident who, in the recently published book “A Secret Gift,” revealed how he discovered about two years ago that B. Virdot was his grandfather, Sam Stone.
SERVED AS INSPIRATION
Articles in The Repository about that book, and about Gup’s Palace Theatre event focusing on the families Stone helped with his gifts, served as inspiration to the three men, one wrote in an e-mail to the newspaper.
The articles told how a man calling himself B. Virdot placed an ad in The Canton Repository on Dec. 18, 1933, offering to give “modest” gifts of money to men or families in need of it, “so they will be able to spend a merry and joyful Christmas.”
A front-page story about the gifts was published in the newspaper on the same 1933 date as the advertisement.
The three men were sitting at a restaurant discussing the gifts and relating the story to today’s recession. They “thought it would be a good idea if B. Virdot might live again,” according to the e-mail sent to The Repository.
“What we propose is a joint effort … to repeat the offer for cash gifts to those most in need.”
The plan is as simple as Stone’s. The men will provide the money. The Repository will solicit letters from individuals and families explaining a need. Requests for help will be screened by a rabbi, a priest and a minister, who also will remain anonymous. They will choose the 150 recipients of the $100 gifts.
The donors believe members of the clergy would be better equipped to choose deserving recipients because of their experience in helping others.
The gifts will be distributed by United Way of Greater Stark County.
“We feel that all this should be done,” the representative of the donors said, “in the name of B. Virdot.”
The Repository agreed to respect the donors’ wish to remain anonymous.
Gup said he was notified by the United Way that after articles about his Palace Theatre program appeared in The New York Times and The Repository, the United Way of Greater Stark County was contacted by potential donors from as far away as New York and Seattle.
“We have not seen the end of this,” Gup said.
The modern-day B. Virdot trio who are prepared to help the community through tough times hopes the giving continues. One of the men said he believes their gifts will inspire others to find their own ways of becoming B. Virdot in their hearts.
Gup feels his grandfather is “looking on, smiling” at the gesture made by the men.
“I’m sure he would applaud this gift,” Gup said of his grandfather. “It’s totally in keeping with the spirit of B. Virdot.”
Stark County Residents in need of money:
Write a letter explaining why you need the money and mail it to:
C/O The Repository
500 Market Ave. S
Canton, OH 44702
No phone calls or e-mails, please