I love when the holiday spirit and the entrepreneurial spirit merge. We're having one of those moments in Panama City, Florida right now. It's a story that begins with a terrible tragedy; a shoot-out at a school board meeting of all places. But, it ends with heroes, charity for children and an outpouring of generosity from all over the world (courtesy eBay, of course).
I won't spend much time on the gunman. Suffice it say, he was clearly a troubled soul. He barged in on a very routine school board meeting last week. After some attempts to negotiate his grievances, he opened fire. Miraculously, no one was shot - but him. First, the security guard disabled him with a shot. Later, he turned the gun on himself. This time, fatally.
It wasn't just the lives of the remaining innocents spared, humanity survived too. In fact, it has found a way to thrive.
First there's school board member, Ginger Littleton, who was one of the women allowed to go by the gunman during the standoff (even a deranged gunman can be a gentleman, I suppose). Upon her release, Ms. Littleton doubled back and tried to take him out with her purse. The video is incredible, as you may have seen on national news accounts by now.
Then there's the security guard, Mike Jones, who finally brought down the gunman. Mike Jones is not new to the hero business. He's been doing it for years in his community refurbishing used bicycles and collecting toys for children in need at the holidays. For 27 years years, he's been known this time of year as "Salvage Santa".
Salvage Santa hasn't missed a day of work since the shooting. In fact he's working overtime. I am happy to report Salvage Santa has shown no squeamishness in capitolizing on his heroic efforts at the school board shooting to boost holiday donations for his cause. Good on him, I say! Compare this to the usual book deal and paid appearances on cable television. This is truly the "spirit" part of "entrepreneurial spirit".
If only more of us would get in touch with the spirit part of ours, too!
Ginger Littleton has. She's put her infamous purse up on eBay with proceeds pledged to help Salvage Santa buy more toys and bikes. Incredibly, the bureaucrats of eBay made her take it down briefly. Salvage Santa isn't a registered charity, so it violated their charity auction criteria. The matter was resolved and the purse is back up. As of this writing, the bidding is now over $1200.
Back to Salvage Santa, himself: Let's remember that for the previous 26 years this man didn't need to be thrust into the middle of a national headline story cast in the role as hero to merge his holiday spirit with his entrepreneurial one.
Neither do we.
I thank him for the reminder. This year, I believe he's salvaging a lot more than bicycles. Now, what can we do?