Thumper Newman Starfish



This article begins and ends with the story of a boy, but it is really the story of a man named Everette Hale Newman IV, better know as Thumper.

The first story is about the death of a boy named Ben, a 14 year old student at James Blair middle school. On the day after Christmas in 2001, Ben was tragically killed in a car accident at the intersection of Monticello Avenue and Centerville Road. The day was clear, the Monticello extension was brand new and the intersection at the time had no stop light..

Struggling with the loss, Ben's Father Thumper Newman sought out a nun he had known from from his days at Walsingham Academy.

 "Sister Bernice did a lot of holding my hand and talking to me about death," Newman said. She suggested that Newman volunteer with the food ministry at St. Beads Catholic Church.

 It was a small pebble of a decision whose ripples would be far reaching.

In the 1990s Newman had been a successful businessman in the timeshare industry. Ben's Death, however changed everything.

 " I just could not go back, "Newman said . " The money did not mean anything anymore."

 Instead, he threw himself into the food ministry, learning all that he could from St. Beads & then from Pat McComick at Grove Christian outreach.

While completing the IRS paperwork to create a $ 500 scholarship in Ben's name at James Blair. Newman decided to establish a non-profit food rescue operation as well. By May of 2002 A Gift From Ben was up & running.

 Today AGFB has delivered more than 10 million pounds of food to the needy in  Williamsburg VA. With the help of 15 volunteers, it operates seven days a week, 364 days a year.

" Christmas is the only day we take off." Newman says.

 While AGFB mission has remained the same over the years but Newman's reason for operating it has shifted and expanded.

 " Over the course of time , people heal from the loss of someone, although you're never really the same," said Newman. " At first , the charity was about bringing some good from Ben's loss. Now it's about helping people struggling from need."

 In fact there is a story Newman likes to tell about another boy.

 This boy is walking along a beach. A Storm has washed in thousands & thousands of Starfish . The boy starts throwing the Starfish back into the ocean. An old man sees the boy and asks what he is doing.

" I'm trying to save the Starfish," replies the boy.

" There are to many of them, " the old man tells him. " You can't possibly make a difference."

 As the man speaks the boy picks up another Starfish and throws it back into the sea.

" I Think I made a difference to that one," he says.

Thumper Newman likes to tell this story because it reminds him why he wakes up every morning, gets into his white delivery truck with the words " A Gift From Ben " painted on the side next to a drawing of a dark haired boy, and delivers food to the needy.

It reminds him that saving one Starfish at a time is enough, not only for a boy but a man as well.


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