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The Meaning of Charity

What does charity mean to you? 

Most of us have, at one time or another, thought about what we would do if we won "the big one." There would be money for kids, money for relatives, money for trips, money for the future. For Bob Erb, a big part of that list was "money for the less fortunate."

And Bob didn't just talk the talk, he has walked the walk. He has spent three hundred thousand dollars to help people get their teeth fixed. Soup kitchens, single Moms, homeless shelters-- it's quite a list-- they have all received the benefit of Bob's generosity. In one year, he's given away eight million dollars. His reason for doing it is quite simple. People need help. So help.

He had been doing it long before he won 25 million dollars. A sack of potatoes here, a few dollars there. In the community of Terrace, British Columbia, Bob has been known by many social services agencies for decades. Bob was the guy who saw kids going to school with no winter coats. So he bought some, told the principal not to tell the kids it was charity. No, he said, "tell them it's a school program so they would feel better about taking them."

That is Bob. As one lady put it, "back in the day when we were drinking strawberry wine and smoking pot, Bob shared then and he's continuing his sharing. So yah, (it's) very cool to happen to a local boy."  

That lady is Carol Sabo, now the executive director of the local emergency shelter for women.

And yes, Bob still likes to smoke pot. In fact, he's passionate about it, and about legalization. He's worked hard on the campaign to legalize marijuana over the years, more so now that he has the time and money to try and make it happen. Far too many good, law-abiding citizens, have been turned into criminals because of marijuana laws says Bob.

It has turned some people off, allowed them to dismiss his benevolent ways. Bob was nominated for "Newsmaker of the year," at the local  Chamber of Commerce. He was  passed over. When I asked two local businessmen Bruno Belanger and B.K. Smith why, they both said the same thing-- "politics," with a twinkle in their eyes. They also said, in their opinion, Bob should have won.

Not that it has bothered Bob. He has won other awards, some he hasn't even bothered to pick up. He's just doing his thing. He says he's heard of other lotto winners who have disappeared with their winnings, helping nobody. To them he says, "shame on you." He's staying right there in Terrace, where he plans to continue helping those in need. Just like he always has. That's what charity means to him.