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Our Inspirational Stories

A Tradition of Helping Others

by Josh Leventhal

My name is Josh and I am a member of my local Volunteer Rescue Squad. I volunteer countless hours because I want to help my fellow man. While holding an interview during the 2009 Christmas season, I came in contact with a young family of five in need of help. The father was an Iraq War veteran, living in a hotel and delivering pizza just to try to make ends meet. He and his wife had been kicked out of their house, along with their three young children, including a newborn!

Hearing his story really hit me hard. At this point I wanted to do everything in my power to help this family. I started to ask myself, "What can I do, since I am only one person?"

I immediately started making phone calls to friends and family to ask if they had any food, toys, or household items that they where no longer using. My next question for each of them was of course, "Would you be willing to donate what you can to this family?" That was the start of something amazing!

I contacted a good friend of mine that owns some apartments here in my town, and asked if he would help to get this family into a "real home" before Christmas. It was meant to be, as he told me that one of his apartments has just become available, and he was more than happy to let them stay. Then, I started getting lots of phone calls from people that I didn't even know! They had heard from friends, who heard from other friends, and so on, about this family.

It was incredible how quickly the word had spread, and how many people wanted to help as Christmas approached. My small act of thoughtfulness had now turned into a giant snowball. In fact, after only the 2nd day of reaching out to friends, I had to open up the meeting room at the rescue squad as a place to have all the donated goods dropped off!

Three days before Christmas, we delivered four trucks and three cars full of items to this family’s new apartment! We had gathered everything from tons of food, clothes for very member of the family, a new set of pots and pans, toys for the kids, household items, and over $1200 in cash! The cash paid for three months of rent, and the utilities to help them get back on their feet.

One year later, I received an unexpected phone call from a fellow member of the rescue squad. She told me that she had crossed paths with another family in need of help. The "snowball" is still rolling.

It looks like I have started a local tradition that God began long ago - the tradition of helping others.

I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; From where shall my help come? My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth.

- Psalm 121:1,2

Walking in the Path God Planned for You

by Aaron Claxton

One time, while I was out asking for help for the Blount County Rescue Squad, I came across this super nice older gentleman. He must have been in his late 70's.

After I introduced myself, he gently asked me to have a seat. And as I began to let him know why I was visiting him that day, he said he had great respect for the Rescue Squad and wanted to help. In fact, he not only wanted to help on behalf of his own home, but also his son's home up a little further - on the ridge.

I said "Okay", and told him I would have to write out two receipts to show both homes had supported their local unsung heroes! At the time we were asking for a donation of $50.00 from each household. He went inside while I began writing the first receipt, and he came back a moment later with some twenty's in his hand and an ice cold Coca-cola. He handed me the drink, which I humbly accepted, expressing my gratitude.

As I was finishing up his receipt, he handed me the money and I counted it. I realized he had given me one hundred and twenty dollars - I was holding six twenties.

Again, the total amount we were asking for to help save lives was only fifty dollars per household. I politely told the gentleman he had had put a extra 20 in my hand, and he said, "No, I didn’t"! He then told me that he wanted me to have it. I said, "Sir, I appreciate that, however I cannot accept any money for personal gain." He smiled, and said it's not for you. I want you to give it to someone.

A bit puzzled, I asked him to explain. He then shared his story with me. He said a long time ago when he was a younger man, his home had burned to the ground and as he sat there sobbing in despair, a Volunteer came to him, bent down, and gave him a coke. "That refreshing drink", he said, "made all the difference". He told me he would never forget that kind hospitality, and he wanted to keep passing it on.

He explained how he wanted me to have the twenty so that I could find someone else who was "down on their luck", and give it to them. I told him I appreciated the story, but I didn’t know if I could do that because we have very strict rules on handling funds. I told him that even though I know I would have godly motives and do exactly as he asked with the money, I might still get into trouble.

Then, in a kind voice, he said “Son, it would be between me, you, and God”. As he said that I got goose bumps. I said "Okay", and didn't really know what would become of the money that I was "guarding for God". Time went on. It'd been a couple of weeks, and I still had the man's twenty dollars.

One day I was out again asking for donations - to save lives, and sure enough - I came across some people down on their luck. They were a nice couple, and had children as well. When I asked them if they might be able to help out their local volunteers, they apologized for being "financially embarrassed". I assured them that it was okay, and that our purpose was not to cause a burden on anyone. I wished them well, and continued on to the next homes down the road.

After visiting 5 or 6 houses, I started to get this nagging feeling that I needed to go back to those people I'd met, and give them the twenty dollars! I turned around and headed back to their home, wondering what would happen.

When they opened the door, I could see they looked very bewildered. I apologized for bothering them again, and said there was something I needed to talk to them about. I explained to them about the older man, and what he had asked me to do.

Then I said, "Sir, I have 20 dollars for you. It's not my money, and it's not the Rescue squads money. It's from a man who you'll never know that wanted you to have it, in God's name!" He looked at me very puzzled, and then his wife jumped up and hugged my neck. She started tearing up. I told them both goodbye, knowing I had only been the deliverer. But as I drove on down the road, emotions flooded within me, for I too started crying.

There was a unforeseen lesson there all along, that I wouldn’t learn till it ended. What a interesting way to learn! So now... I thank the older gentleman, and God ... for the kind of humbling experience, that only God can deliver. And this time, he chose Excalibur Knoxville to deliver it.

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

- Ephesians 2:10

A Happy Feeling that Only a Child Can Bring

by LaNay Nelson

One time, when I was out asking for help to save lives, a women came to the door and said, "I know who you are", and then she started to tell me how the Rescue Squad had saved her husband's life. At the same time, her four and a half year old grandson was trying to talk to me as well.

She told me how much the Rescue Squad meant to her, and said, "I always make a donation to the squad." After I made out her receipt, I thanked her for her donation, and then humbly said "God Bless You".

She went back into her home, and I walked to my truck and drove next door. It was very close, really within walking distance. After knocking on this door, and after the homeowner had come to speak with me, we both heard a child crying.

I looked toward the house that I had just come from, and saw the woman's grandson crying as he was running towards me. His grandmother was right there behind him, trying to keep up. She then told me that the young man was crying because, he did not get to shake the hand of "the rescue squad man" or even say, "Goodbye".

So I knelt down, to talk with him and shake his hand. And when I did, it immediately took his tears away and made him so happy. THE FEELING WAS VERY HEARTFELT AND LOVING!!!! And I wanted to share it with you today.

And they were bringing children to Him so that He might touch them; but the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw this, He was indignant and said to them, “Permit the children to come to Me; do not hinder them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.

“Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all.” And He took them in His arms and began blessing them, laying His hands on them.

- Mark 10:13-16

Read More Inspiration Stories on Page 2

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