Kirby and Marie Fontaine were lucky when they won a $50-million Lotto Max in 2009, but the real winners were Manitobans. They have been models of grace, humility and kindness as they quietly go around sharing their wealth and making a difference in ways small and large.
Their latest act of charity occurred after Christmas when they showed up at the offices of the Christmas Cheer Board with a cheque for $50,000 to help cover the board's seasonal deficit. Typically, the couple didn't hang around for a photo-op or media interviews. They're not motivated by the need for attention, but by a genuine desire to help.
The Fontaines still spend most of their time on Sagkeeng First Nation living in an old trailer, although they have a new house in Winnipeg. They've hired people to repair the local church, build a fence and do other jobs on the reserve, while establishing a website with the goal of helping other reserves in the country.
Manitoba has many philanthropists -- the Fraser Institute recently named Manitoba the most generous place in Canada for the 14th year in a row -- but not too many like the Fontaines.
As the new year gets underway, may they be an inspiration for everyone to consider what they can give to make the world a better place. Not everyone has money to spare, but there are many worthy projects that only require the priceless commodities of time and energy.