This article begins and ends with the story
of a boy, but it is really the story of a man named Everette Hale Newman IV,
better know as Thumper.
The first story is about the death of a boy
named Ben, a 14 year old student at James Blair middle school. On the day
after Christmas in 2001, Ben was tragically killed in a car accident at the
intersection of Monticello Avenue and Centerville Road. The day was clear,
the Monticello extension was brand new and the intersection at the time had
no stop light..
Struggling with the loss, Ben's Father
Thumper Newman sought out a nun he had known from from his days at
"Sister Bernice did a lot of holding
my hand and talking to me about death," Newman said. She suggested that
Newman volunteer with the food ministry at St. Beads Catholic Church.
It was a small pebble of a decision
whose ripples would be far reaching.
In the 1990s Newman had been a successful
businessman in the timeshare industry. Ben's Death, however changed
" I just could not go back, "Newman
said . " The money did not mean anything anymore."
Instead, he threw himself into the
food ministry, learning all that he could from St. Beads & then from Pat
McComick at Grove Christian outreach.
While completing the IRS paperwork to
create a $ 500 scholarship in Ben's name at James Blair. Newman decided to
establish a non-profit food rescue operation as well. By May of 2002 A Gift
From Ben was up & running.
Today AGFB has delivered more than 10
million pounds of food to the needy in Williamsburg VA. With the help
of 15 volunteers, it operates seven days a week, 364 days a year.
" Christmas is the only day we take off."
While AGFB mission has remained the
same over the years but Newman's reason for operating it has shifted and
" Over the course of time , people heal
from the loss of someone, although you're never really the same," said
Newman. " At first , the charity was about bringing some good from Ben's
loss. Now it's about helping people struggling from need."
In fact there is a story Newman likes
to tell about another boy.
This boy is walking along a beach. A
Storm has washed in thousands & thousands of Starfish . The boy starts
throwing the Starfish back into the ocean. An old man sees the boy and asks
what he is doing.
" I'm trying to save the Starfish," replies
" There are to many of them, " the old man
tells him. " You can't possibly make a difference."
As the man speaks the boy picks up
another Starfish and throws it back into the sea.
" I Think I made a difference to that one,"
Thumper Newman likes to tell this story
because it reminds him why he wakes up every morning, gets into his white
delivery truck with the words " A Gift From Ben " painted on the side next
to a drawing of a dark haired boy, and delivers food to the needy.
It reminds him that saving one Starfish at
a time is enough, not only for a boy but a man as well.