Tampa General Dishwasher Embodies the Spirit of Christmas

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media , December 7, 2009

"I keep my bills caught up. I don't overdo it. I don't go places," Collins says, when asked how he accomplishes so much on a dishwasher's salary. "When I get paid I pay my rent and my other bills and I keep some money in the bank for myself. It's like somebody said, after 20 years you should retire doing this. But it don't bother me. I'm used to it. I made it this far and I'm going to try to stick it out for as long as I can."

Collins is single, and lives modestly. He doesn't own a car. He is legally blind and rides his bicycle six miles to work each morning. "It keeps me fit," he says.

Despite all he does for the foster children, Collins keeps his distance. "I have a rule. I don't like to meet them. I would rather let them have their privacy. I respect what they go through," he says. "A lot of these kids go through some hard times. They know somebody else is trying hard to make their Christmas good."

Collins says Christmas means sharing what you have with those who don't, whether they're foster children or people down on their luck. "This week I had people who needed some money on the street so I gave them a couple of dollars for bus fare or to just get by," he says. "I'm not a millionaire and I don't own a car, but what I do makes me feel good on the inside."

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John Commins is a senior editor with HealthLeaders Media.

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