Hoxie man gives children Christmas

The Jonesboro Sun

HOXIE, Ark. (AP) - Richard Millsap gets by.

"My children get what they need, and Jill is a good wife and mother," he said.

He works during the day at Russell's Auto Repair in Portia, and Jill works second shift.

"I'm a poor boy, myself," he said. "I struggle, and to see people that struggle more than me hurts my heart."

This Christmas Eve, he and Santa will deliver presents to four families in Black Rock, Hoxie, Walnut Ridge and Piggott.

A total of 13 children will receive brand new shoes, socks, underwear, shirts, pants and coats, purchased from $1,500 Millsap raised last weekend during a garage sale.

"I'm not doing it to 'touch' nobody. I don't like pats on the back," he said. "I think everybody deserves to open a present."

For five years, Millsap has been buying Christmas presents for families in need. He began when a woman he knew was left by her husband four days before Christmas.

Millsap decided to buy presents for her two children. He delivered the gifts to her doorstep on Christmas, rang the doorbell and ran.

"Ever since then, I help children at Christmas." He's driven truckloads of presents to Ravenden, Jonesboro, Sedgwick, and as far as Thayer, Mo. "A lot more places than I can remember."

In November, Millsap began preparing for Christmas. He had two sheds in his backyard that were full of items donated for the garage sale, and he filled a storage unit that a local person offered to him for free.

He said a lot of community members donate clothes, some of them still marked with a Dillard's price tag.

Clothing leftover from the garage sale will go to Shepherd Care and The Children's Shelter, both of Walnut Ridge.

A lot of donated items are nice, some are not so nice, and some just need to be cleaned.

"It takes time to clean, money for cleaning supplies, and storage," he said.

Millsap operated the sale under his own system: take what you want, and give what you want.

He mentioned a woman who wanted to buy an armload of items from the garage sale, but only had a hand full of change.

He assured her it would be all right, and she paid with the change she had.

A few days later, "the same lady handed me a $100 bill," Millsap said.

Local businesses also contributed monetary donations, totaling more than $500.

He received a $25 donation from a company in Michigan City, Ind., and speculates someone heard about the fundraiser through his Facebook page, "Richard Millsap."

His Facebook friends message him names of families who may need help. He picks a few, contacts their friends to discern the children's needs, then prepares to deliver their presents on Christmas Eve.

"It's a family thing, and it's growing every year," he said.

He said he couldn't pull it off without his friends and family: Shea Bobbitt, Jody Sanders, Tina and Chuck Adams, Allen Blackwell, Gabby Millsap, and Terry and Shirley Millsap.

"He's got a really big heart," Bobbitt said. A single mother of 3, Bobbitt said her family has never had to worry about getting by, in part because of help others have offered.

"I know that it does get hard sometimes, no matter how good you're doing," she said. "You always want to see other people do good, also."

Bobbitt found out about the fundraiser through Facebook.

"It's heartbreaking to know there is so much want and need," Millsap said. "Most people can't take the time to look next door. Nobody does that anymore."

Millsap is raising his children differently, and volunteering helps him bond with them.

"I get to spend time with my boys," Landon Taleff, 12, and Lake Light, 7.

He also has an 18-month-old daughter, Kimley.

Families need help all year long, he said, not just at Christmas, and he helps with numerous other fundraisers.

He said last year he shaved his head to raise money for a cancer patient, for whom he collected $1,000.

Information from: The Jonesboro Sun, http://www.jonesborosun.com

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