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A Christmas miracle

N-Cards-for-Donnie1-web

Man receives thousands of cards from around the world

By Judy Reed

 

Donnie and his Uncle Denny.

Donnie and his Uncle Denny.

A simple request on a facebook page has led to an amazing outpouring of Christmas wishes for a Cedar Springs man. Donnie Whipple has received thousands of Christmas cards from every state in the U.S., except Utah and Hawaii, and several other countries around the world.

Donnie, 50, lives with his younger half sister, Spring Hobbs, and her husband, Neil, in Nelson Township. Spring became Donnie’s guardian 15 years ago, after their mother passed away. “He’s like a son to me,” explained Spring. “I’m a three-time cancer survivor, and it took my ability to have children. He is the joy of my life. My mother left him to me as a gift; that’s the way I’ve always seen it.”

One of the things Donnie looks forward to each year is sending a card to his Uncle Denny and receiving one from him. It’s the only contact he has with him, since he lives in Jackson. He hadn’t seen him in 30 years.

This year, the card Donnie sent was returned with no forwarding address. At first, Donnie thought it was a card from his Uncle. But when Spring explained it was his own card that came back, Donnie was devastated. She told him she would try to locate him. And she also did something else—she tagged 20 of her friends in a facebook post and asked them to send Christmas cards to her brother. “They took it from there, bless their hearts,” remarked Spring.

This was early December. Within days, cards began pouring in. She had 31 the first day. Spring met with her mail carrier, Janine, to let her know that there might be even more. “We haven’t had less than 200 a day since then,” she remarked. “Janine is no longer the bill lady, she’s the card lady.” As of last count on Tuesday, they were just short of 3,000 cards.

And Donnie loves opening each one. “It’s exciting, but also a little overwhelming for him,” explained Spring. She said that by the third or fourth day, he was just sitting and staring, and then began to cry. “I can’t believe all these people love me,” he told her.

“It’s really a big deal for him,” she said.

But it’s also a big deal for Spring. “It’s shown me there are still a lot of really good people out there. With everything going on in the world, to find out there are so many people who would do this, is amazing.”

But Spring said it’s doing just as much for others as for Donnie. “It’s no longer about what they are doing for Donnie; it’s what he’s doing for them. We get so many cards with people thanking him for reminding them what Christmas is all about.”

She said they also get Christmas cards with donations, but they don’t plan to keep the money. “He wanted to get a calendar, and a movie, and I’ll let him do that, and then we’ll donate the rest. Possibly to Special Olympics,” she said. “We just want Christmas cards. We are not a family in need.”

After Donnie’s story hit the news, a man who works with Donnie’s Uncle Denny in Jackson contacted Spring, and told her how to contact him. She said Denny  knew nothing about what was going on. He had apparently moved, and that was why the card was returned. Spring called him to set up a meeting between him and Donnie, and that happened last weekend.

“It was very emotional for Donnie, since he hadn’t seen him in 30 years,” she explained.

Spring is grateful to all who have sent cards to Donnie. “Thank you for making such a huge difference in his life this Christmas,” she said.

If you would like to follow what is happening with Donnie, you can follow the facebook page that Spring set up called cardsfordonnie. She said she would be updating it monthly. If you want to write Donnie Whipple, send your card or letters to: 15263 Pine Lake Ave, Cedar Springs MI 49319.

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