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Community's Spirit of Giving Glows Through Rain and Economic Pain

Difficult economic times reveal that generosity loves a challenge during the holidays for three men from Hamilton and Wenham.

Measured by either the depth of presents beneath the tree or the snowfall, Christmas 2012 may come up short. But measured by the spirit of giving, this holiday season looks to be as generous as ever.

While bars of Little Star of Bethlehem and Jingle Bells wafted on the airwaves in shopping malls this week, three wise men of Hamilton and Wenham joined forces for a trip to . Their mission; not to stock their own cupboards but to stock those of others, those they don’t know and may never meet.

“It’s Dr. Bryant Barnard who should get the credit for it,” said Hamilton’s Chet Shuman. “He’s done it regularly.

“He got in touch with me and Chuck Favazzo and asked if we wanted to do it too,” Shuman explained. “So we got a shopping cart and loaded it with five or six hundred dollars worth of groceries to take to the .”

Wanting to downplay his part, Shuman stated bluntly; “It’s not as if I spend all my time doing philanthropy.”

Lightening his tone he conceded, “I must admit that it’s a good feeling to see that people who are in need get help.”

Their marked reluctance to talk about themselves and their shopping mission makes it clear that Barnard, Shuman and Favazzo are not out to turn heads. When asked about altruism, Shuman and others are likely to mention the United Way.

“Chet Shuman was one of the guys on the original board (of the United Way) who attracted me,” said Mike Maginn.

Maginn's first involvement with the United Way was as an organizational consultant.

“I ran a board retreat and was so impressed with the energy of the (all volunteer) board that I became a member.”

Maginn jumped in with two feet and eventually became the board’s chairman.

“It’s about community organization. What else is there?" he said as he talked about his involvement with United Way volunteers. “When you’re taking care of your community you’re taking care of yourself.”

Like the others, Maginn is quick to deflect attention away from himself and his service. Maginn would rather talk about Margo Casey, the North Shore United Way’s Executive Director.

“Margo is really quite amazing. What she’s really good at is putting people together.”

Maginn said the United Way needs to have its horn tooted.

“(The idea behind The United Way is) to be a kind of cauldron – to put people with ideas together to help the under served," Maginn said, adding that the organization collects money and it gives it away to people in need.

“That’s the thing,” Maginn added, “The need thing is really dramatic in this horrible recession.”

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