He was hard to miss—with the huge bags of recycled cans suspended from a wooden yoke across his shoulders. Inclement weather didn't seem to matter as his cheeks often bore the brunt of the chilly wind. He became a city icon—most called him Recycle Joe.
His bulging sacks were carried to the trunk of his equally recycled car. He'd get his aluminum weighed and receive a small collection of coins for his daily miles of walking.
What no one knew, because Joe never told, was that the money he earned by gathering aluminum cans was collected for a sole purpose—to give to little children at Christmas.
Not just any children, but kids like Joe had been—a foster kid. He remembered those Christmas seasons, and if any kid deserved something extra on Christmas, it was a foster kid.
So, as Christmas approached, he'd take a year's worth of collected coins and shop. He knew just what these kids would want too.
Then he'd deliver the gifts to the foster care office, where they'd come to appreciate his annual generosity.
He might not see the kids' smiles on Christmas, but he knew that it mattered having someone "out there" that cared.
At Joe's memorial service, people gathered to remember those bulging bags and an even bigger heart of love.
Joe passed on, but now his story lives on as it inspires others every holiday season.