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NUGENT: Christmas spirit found in cash-filled wallet

Ex-con’s honesty gives his kids true gift of the season

- - Thursday, December 22, 2011

With Christmas less than a week away, the hustle and bustle of preparing for this national holiday can cause one to lose sight of the meaning of Christmas.

And then along comes a story that reminds us of what Christmas is really all about.

You need look no further for the real spirit of Christmas than Alex Ortiz, an ex-con in my hometown of Detroit, who is struggling to get by.

Alex Ortiz embraces the Christmas spirit of giving. What he did was to do the right thing, to give back.

Barely out of jail a week, Mr. Ortiz found a wallet stuffed with $1,000 in cash and credit cards. Instead of taking the cash, Mr. Ortiz contacted the owner and gave the wallet back.

This is the true meaning of Christmas. A man of very limited means with eight kids to provide for did the right thing and gave the wallet back.

His children should be extraordinarily proud of their dad. Although presents in the Ortiz household may be rather limited on Christmas morning, what their dad gave them is something that has no price tag. It is invaluable, priceless: honesty.

Given his limited means, it would have almost been understandable had Mr. Ortiz kept the cash. That money could have been used for food and possibly, a present for each of his eight kids. Instead, he chose the right path. He said that is what God wanted him to do.

Jeff Schulmeister, another fellow Detroiter with the true spirit of Christmas glowing brightly in his heart, saw the story on the news and gave Mr. Ortiz $1,000 for doing the right thing. Reports are that the television station is being deluged with calls and emails from viewers who also want to donate funds to Mr. Ortiz.

What Mr. Ortiz did, then what Mr. Schulmeister did and others are doing is proof positive that the Christmas spirit is alive and well in America. Even in Detroit.

This wonderful little story is the story of redemption, doing the right thing, neighbors helping neighbors. This is the spirit of Christmas.

The Christmas spirit is not receiving, but rather giving. What these two gentlemen have done is remind us of that. Dig deep, America, and give until it hurts. Do it for Mr. Ortiz and Mr. Schulmeister. Do it because it is the right thing to do.

The spirit of Christmas remains bright, vibrant and alive thanks to Mr. Ortiz and Mr. Schulmeister.

Merry Christmas, Mr. Ortiz and Mr. Schulmeister. May the Good Lord bless both of you for showing us the true spirit of Christmas.

Ted Nugent is an American rock 'n' roll, sporting and political activist icon. He is the author of "Ted, White, and Blue: The Nugent Manifesto" and "God, Guns & Rock 'N' Roll" (Regnery Publishing).