S: Big-Hearted Bobby by Tappia Freed Infanger
BC: We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give. ~Winston Churchill
FC: Big-Hearted Bobby | Written and Illustrated by Tappia Freed Infanger | My Heritage Collection
1: My Heritage Collection presents... | Big-Hearted Bobby | Written and Illustrated by Tappia Freed Infanger
3: This book is dedicated to the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of Robert Freed. May you continue the legacy of giving with a big heart.
5: At 13 years old, Bobby loved lots of things. He loved to ski. He loved to go to movies. He loved to put on plays. He loved his family—as any young boy does. But most of all he loved to see people happy.
6: One brisk day early in winter, Bobby flung his ice skates over his shoulder and began the long walk home from ice skating downtown with his brothers. As the wind whistled and the snow swirled around him, he pulled the collar of his wool coat up around his ears. He thought how much he loved summertime—the hot sun beating down on his face, swimming pools, the way he could run outside to play without even thinking about a coat and gloves. He longed for those long, warm days.
7: Just then, a snowball hit him square in the back. “Got you Snake Eyes!” his brother David shouted. Bobby smiled. He couldn’t remember a time when David had ever called him Bobby like everyone else. “C’mon Snake Eyes, race you home!” David took off running. As Bobby started to chase him, he noticed something out of the corner of his eye.
8: It was a small boy, no more than five years old. He was standing on the other side of a tall chain link fence, with a sign that said, “St. Ann’s Orphanage.” He was skinny with sandy hair and flushed cheeks. Not the kind you get from playing tag, but the kind from being in the cold too long. He wore a threadbare coat and no gloves. He was watching the boys intently. Bobby waved and smiled. The little boy’s face brightened and he shouted a loud, “Hi!”
10: Bobby waved again and hurried to catch up to his brothers. When he got home, his mother had warm gingerbread waiting for them. As Bobby sat eating as many cookies as he could, he couldn’t help but think about that little boy. Would he get a new coat for Christmas? He sure needed one. Suddenly Bobby didn’t feel hungry anymore.
11: That night, as Bobby lay in bed trying to fall asleep, he had an idea. Yes! That was it. That’s how I can help that little boy! His mind busied itself working out all the details. When he had finally exhausted all the possibilities he could think of, he fell fast asleep with a smile on his face.
12: Bobby came racing home after school the next day, eager to put his plan in place. He quickly dropped his books, grabbed a small zippered bag out of the closet, had a quick snack and went back outside without even taking off his coat.
13: He started at one end of the street. Without hesitating, he walked up to the door and knocked. “Hello?” said a pretty blonde woman. “Hi! My name is Bobby Freed and I am collecting money for the St. Ann’s Orphanage for Christmas. Would you like to donate?” The woman smiled at the boy’s tenacity, “Just a moment.” She returned with a dollar and a few coins. “Thank you!” Bobby said and put the money in his pouch.
14: Door after door he knocked, each time explaining that the money would go to the orphanage for Christmas. He walked street after street going as far as his parents allowed him and then dared to go just one road further. He came home that night tired, but happy.
15: When Bobby counted the money he had collected, he was surprised and perplexed. Surprised at how much there was, but perplexed about how much it could really buy. “It’ll just have to do,” he told himself. He gathered up all the money and went down the local department store to see what he could buy.
16: There were many things Bobby loved about Christmas, but one of his favorites was the hustle and bustle of holiday shoppers. The storefront windows were decorated beautifully. When he walked in Woolworth’s, he heard the sweet strains of Bing Crosby singing “White Christmas” over the sound system. It was Bobby’s favorite Christmas carol.
17: Bobby went right to the front of the store where a man was running the cash register. “Hello. May I help you?” said the man. “Yes,” said Bobby. “I need to speak with the manager please.” With an inquisitive look, the cashier walked to the back of the store and motioned for Bobby to follow.
18: Bobby followed the man to the back office of Woolworth’s department store. Inside was an older man sitting at a desk, clearly working. “This is Mr. Pierce,” said the cashier and with a turn, walked back to his post at the front of the store. Mr. Pierce looked up from his stack of papers and said, “What can I help you with young man?” “My name is Bobby Freed. I have collected some money and would like to purchase some Christmas gifts for the children of St. Ann’s Orphanage. But I was wondering if I could negotiate some sort of discount on whatever I buy for the orphanage.” Bobby waited, heart pounding, for the manager to reply. “You mean to tell me you’ve gathered up all this money and you’re going to buy presents for the orphans? You don’t want to buy something for yourself? Why?” asked Mr. Pierce. “I just want to make sure that those kids have a present on Christmas, sir. I like helping people,” replied Bobby. “Well I would say that the world needs a few more young men like you around. Pick whatever you want. I’d be happy to give you a discount,” said Mr. Pierce with a smile. “Thank you, sir,” said Bobby and he left the office.
20: Bobby was excited. Now he could buy each child some wonderful gifts for Christmas. He quickly found a toy, a game, a pencil box, a book, a pair of gloves, and some candy for each child in the orphanage. He walked to the cash register and paid for the gifts. It took every bit of money he had, but not a penny more.
21: Over the next few days, Bobby spent his spare time wrapping presents. He wrapped them in brown paper and tied them with string. Each gift had a little card with the name of a child on it. He could hardly wait to give them to the children.
22: Finally Christmas Eve arrived. Bobby carefully loaded all the gifts into the trunk of his parent’s car. They bundled up the family and headed to St. Ann’s Orphanage. When they arrived, the head mistress of the orphanage came out to help them unload the gifts. She thanked them over and over again for their kindness. Bobby and his family went home with a warm feeling in their hearts.
24: When Bobby awoke on Christmas morning he laid there for a moment and thought of the orphan children. Bobby could imagine how excited the children would be. He especially liked to imagine the face of that one small boy who had not been forgotten on Christmas. He heard his brothers stirring and thought of all the wonderful things waiting for them under their tree. They had so much...so many toys, so many books, so much good food to eat. Bobby’s heart was full; grateful to have so much, and grateful to have had the chance to share with those who had so little.
25: As he got out of bed to see the Christmas tree, he found a note perched on his bedside table. He unfolded it and read, Dearest Bobby: I wish I could thank you, dear, for all the things you do for me every day. And you are so good, so generous, kind and loving that I can’t be grateful enough that you are the way you are. You are a wonderful boy, Bobby dear, and a son that anyone would be proud to call his own. Love, Mother
26: With tears in his eyes, Bobby rushed to the living room where his brothers were squealing over the Christmas presents. He hugged his mother in a way he hadn’t in a long time. Bobby indeed loved lots of things. He loved his family, and now he loved those orphan children. Bobby knew that when he looked back on this Christmas, he would always remember what it feels like to have big heart.
27: Robert Ellis Freed or “Bobby” as he was called in his youth was born on May 4, 1919. He lived in Salt Lake City, Utah for most of his life. It was the Christmas of 1931, when Bob was thirteen years old, that he first began giving presents to St. Ann’s orphanage. He collected all the money, negotiated the discount at Woolworth’s and wrapped and delivered the presents himself. The Salt Lake Tribune printed an article about Bobby Freed subbing for Santa. He continued giving to the orphanage for many years after and cultivated a lifelong commitment to helping those less fortunate.
28: About the Author: Tappia Infanger has always loved family stories. She grew up hearing stories about her family on long car rides. Some were very old stories about people she had never met; others were about her parents, aunts and uncles from when they were young. Tappia loved hearing them all. Now she is married with children of her own. They seem to always want her to tell them a story! So she had the idea to turn those stories she had heard many, many times into children's books. This book, “Big-Hearted Bobby” is the first volume of many in the My Heritage Collection. It is about Tappia's grandfather. This story has been told almost every Christmas she can remember. Though she never got to meet him, Tappia has come to know Grandpa Bob through the stories she has heard about him. Her hope is that her children, along with many others, will learn and come to appreciate their ancestors through reading stories from their lives; for they were indeed ordinary people who did extraordinary things.