Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Baby, it's warm inside their hearts

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A couple of weeks ago, 13-year-old Jenna Duke was out shopping for a new set of goalie pads.

A stranger casually approached her in the aisle of Royal Sports.

"At first I thought 'Who is this strange man talking to my daughter?' " Regina Parker said Monday.

"I moved a little closer. We had no idea who he was."

Jenna was wearing her ringette Provincial Champs 2009 jacket. It has her name on the arm.

The man called her Jenna as he continued to chat her up.

By now, mom and dad were getting worried. They moved towards the stranger and their child, the goalie for the Rural Municipality of MacDonald Wild Fire tweens team. He told the family his name.

"It was like he was shy," says Parker. "He said 'Uh, my name is Kirby Fontaine and I, uh, won some money.' "

As most of the country knows, Kirby and Marie Fontaine won more than some money. They won $50 million and have been busy using it to improve the lives of people in their community.

Apparently they've moved out of their postal code to share the wealth.

Jenna's mom continues the story.

"He asked if we'd mind if he bought the goalie pads."

The nonplussed couple didn't know what to say.

"They were $700. These are good pads. He told us we made a good choice."

They agreed to let him make the purchase. They stress they had the money to do it themselves. It's just that Kirby has more.

"He had a whole pile of stuff on the counter. He was shopping with his nephew," says Parker. "He told the guy to just put it on his bill."

Jenna was so tickled she asked Kirby to autograph the pads.

"He asked her to tell him how her next game went. They won, so she sent him a note (to an address he had provided). We don't know if he got it."

Kirby, if you're reading this, Jenna Duke is a winner. And so are you for helping out a young athlete.

"ö "ö "ö

In other news of generosity: Free Press staffers got their Christmas present this week. It's a token amount but, in this economy, we're glad the bosses still talk to us.

One of the guys in the press room called me to say he and a number of his buddies decided someone else needed the gift cards more than they did.

The Safeway gift cards are on their way to Pine Falls. The locked-out Tembec workers will be getting a little more help from strangers.

I'm proud of the guys and hope they're not the only ones to make the gesture.

"ö "ö "ö

Finally, a little good news for Siloam Mission.

The Grade 5 students at Transcona's Radisson School have been working like elves to make Christmas brighter for the homeless and the hungry.

As part of a year-long project, they've held bake sales, sold healthy snacks and are holding a luncheon for the school staff.

Everyone in the class -- and remember they're 11 and 12-year-olds -- have learned how to knit or crochet. Scarves for Siloam will also go into the boxes.

Their teacher is showing the kids there are needy people in our city. The other lesson she's teaching is that, no matter how small you are, you can make a big difference. And if that's not the spirit of Christmas I don't know what is.

lindor.reynolds@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 15, 2009 A6

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About Lindor Reynolds

National Newspaper Award winner Lindor Reynolds began work at the Free Press as a 17-year-old proofreader. It was a rough introduction to the news business.

Many years later, armed with a university education and a portfolio of published work, she was hired as a Free Press columnist. During her 20-plus years on the job she has written for every section in the paper, with the exception of Business. She’ll get around to them some day.

Lindor has received considerable recognition for her writing. Her awards include the Will Rogers Humanitarian Award, the National Society of Newspaper Columnists’ general interest award and the North American Travel Journalists Association top prize.
Her work on Internet luring led to an amendment to the Criminal Code of Canada and her coverage of the child welfare system prompted a change to Manitoba Child and Family Services Act to make the safety of children paramount.

She has earned three citations of merit for the Michener Award for Meritorious Public Service in Journalism and has been awarded a Distinguished Alumni commendation from the University of Winnipeg. Lindor was also named a YMCA/YWCA  Woman of Distinction.

She is married with four daughters. If her house was on fire and the kids and dog were safe, she’d grab her passport.
 
lindor.reynolds@freepress.mb.ca

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