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This is Governor John Baldacci and I greet you this weekend with the warmest of holiday wishes.

Despite all that's going on in the world, we're in a magical time of the year, when people from all over the world and many traditions celebrate important holidays.

Hanukkah – the eight-day Festival of Lights celebrated by those of Jewish faith – began last Sunday night.

Christmas - celebrated this Thursday after a month of television specials, religious services and family get-togethers.

And Kwanzaa – a weeklong celebration honoring African heritage – began this past Friday and will be observed through January 1st.

These holidays have a tendency – even in tough times – to bring out the best in people.

Year after year we hear stories of neighbor-helping-neighbor, stories of compassion and stories that exemplify the spirit of the season.

I recently received a letter from an individual whose father was nearly forced out of his home because of the difficult economy that we are all facing.

She wrote to me and she said, “My father still lives in Glenburn, right outside of Bangor. Back in the 90's (her) father had a motorcycle accident that left him with untreated brain injuries and other medical issues. Since then (her) sister and (herself have) advocated for and on the behalf of (their) father.”

“The least to say this has been a difficult major up hill battle with the medical and legal obligations” piling up.

And “due to the economy this past year (her) sister and (herself) have found it increasingly difficult to help (their father) with any occurring expenses. (They) have found some assistance with food and fuel, but the property taxes hadn't (been paid and were getting) out of hand. (They had) tried several avenues before, but nothing was available for assistance.

“He was to be foreclosed on the 18th and would lose his only place of shelter, his home.

“This is what has prompted my letter to you, Governor. Billy Gaudett, a neighbor, a friend of the community, a good man stepped forward to help my father solve his dilemma. I find this very important as we had exhausted all assistance with town, state and family.

“A good man...a man who has been paralyzed since the 80's. A man who tries to survive just like his own neighbors. A giving man who has taken from his own means of survival and reached out to someone who was in more of desperate need. Billy Gaudett is a true hero in my book.”

Well, he is in my book too. And I wanted to be able to publicly acknowledge the good this man has done, because he represents so many others in our State who give of themselves even when they don’t have it to give.

And that is the true spirit of Christmas.

We find through those actions, happening throughout our State, providing that kind of safety net for our neighbors, for our community and for our State.

That is the true meaning of Christmas – doing something for someone other than ourselves. And that is a holiday spirit that we in Maine are very proud about.

So it’s not about the presents or the food; or the hectic schedules or scrambles that we do. But it is recognizing that we are truly lucky and appreciate the opportunities that we have to live in this great State and this great nation.

Next week, we are going to be initiating the Harold Alfond scholarship for every child born in the State of Maine, a $500 scholarship will be established in their name.

Harold wasn’t from Maine, but he cared deeply about the kids in Maine. And he wanted to make sure all kids – no matter what their background and circumstances were – had an opportunity to achieve the American dream.

To be able to have a foundation for themselves. And they could be able to provide for themselves and be masters of their own future.

Opportunities that he wanted to see spread from one end of Maine to the other.

Harold Alfond has been like a modern-day Santa to many children in the State of Maine and his gift will continue to be given over the years, and recognizing the impact that that is going to have on future generations.

Harold Alfond and Billy Gaudett. Billy, a neighbor, a friend of the community and a good man stepped forward to help out a person to solve their dilemma.

Harold Alfond, an individual who is not from Maine, stepped forward to help all the children of Maine being born this year into the future to have that foundation so that they can provide for themselves and realize the American dream.

So to those two individuals and so many others in our State who they reflect and represent, I want to say thank you.

Thank you for doing what you do, not for recognition, but because by giving you also receive more. That’s the true gift of Christmas and the holiday season.

So, God bless you all, and God bless the State of Maine.

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