Bob MacDonald was a not-so-anonymous recovering alcoholic after he found AA midstream in a print media career that was capped by 35 years at the Toronto Sun.
The award-winning Day One columnist spoke openly of his addiction and when he encountered people on the street walking in what were once his shoes, he always had change and words of encouragement.
So his annual pet project, the Regent Park Christmas Dinner for the homeless, the addicted and other needy folks, fit his nature like a glove. He devoted a column to the cause, handed out flyers and manned the turkey dinner line on Christmas Day
The dinner lost a loyal friend and participant on Feb. 26, 2006, when Bob died of cancer at 76, but it found a new friend in his daughter, Moira MacDonald, also a Sun columnist.
Moira, preparing to attend her second Regent Park Christmas Dinner at Sacre Coeur Church, at 381 Sherbourne St., wrote about her father's commitment in Monday's Sun.
"Christmas Day, he'd disappear from home right after presents and breakfast and not return until it was time to mash the turnips at 4:30," Moira says.
Some people might think it odd that a father would leave the house on Christmas Day after the presents were opened to devote time to the less fortunate.
For Bob, it was the right thing to do and it spoke volumes for the depth of his character.
Bob MacDonald and George Gross, two giants during the rising of the Sun, had pet projects they shared with readers and their readers responded with generous donations.
Sun columnist Mike Strobel has picked up the baton for the Variety Village Christmas Fund following the death of George last March.
And Moira is giving the Regent Park event, now in its 28th year, her time on Christmas Day in memory of Bob.
Good people, worthy projects.
If you want to make a donation to the dinner in memory of Bob this Christmas, mail a cheque to Regent Park Christmas Dinner, P.O. Box 30085, 2365 Warden Ave., Unit 4, Scarborough, Ontario M1T 0A1.
Moira says the mailing list of Regent Park Christmas Dinner supporters has dipped to 210 from 1,200, which makes donations to this year's dinner in Bob's name more urgent.