A janitor bestows 'best' gift

An Indiana man's generosity to a co-worker who couldn't afford to fly her son home for Christmas has been honored as the "best" Yuletide gift by a nonprofit group seeking to stamp out holiday commercialism.

The Atlanta-based Alternative Christmas National Campaign, which was organized in 1973, gives a "Best Christmas Gift" and "Worst Christmas Gift" award annually because it "wishes to revive a more human and socially responsible celebration."

The "best gift" award was given to Steve Sanders, a janitor at a public school in Martinsville, Ind. The recipient of his largess was Betty Singleton, a cook at the same school, Mrs. Singleton hadn't seen her son, who was serving in the Army in Honolulu, for several years.

"I wanted to see him so bad . . . but just didn't have enough money," Mrs. Singleton wrote when she nominated Mr. Sanders for the award. She said he gave her a plane ticket to fly her son home for the holidays.

The group's founder, A. B. Short, said the Alternative Christmas campaign favors "challenging Christmas commercialism, adopting alternative and more meaningful gift-giving practices, diverting money which is typically spent on holiday extravagance to worthwhile social concerns and human-needs projects."

The organization seeks entries for gifts that are "meaningful, humane, personal, considerate of the earth, and which reflect the deeper meaning of Christmas."

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