December 19, 2014

Pinconning comedian provides merry Christmas for area families

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The Arquette family of Sterling, Bella, Dominic, Kitcha holding new-born daughter Johnni, and Zackary, pose for a photo with Little.
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Rob and Julie Little pose for a photo with Roseann and Samantha Buys, one of the four families they helped out this past Christmas.
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Julie Little, Travis Pawlowski and his mother Maria Rodriguez and Rob Little smile after the Littles brought some holiday cheer to the family.
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Julianna Spoor, Rob Little, Shantel, Michael and Colleen Spoor stand and smile as Aliyah and Jakob Spoor kneel and grin after receiving presents from Little.
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PINCONNING — When comedian Rob Little takes the stage throughout the year, he makes people laugh all over the country. But for the past three Christmases, Little has traded punch lines for presents.

This past Christmas, the Pinconning native and his mother, Julie Little, helped struggling families in Pinconning, Sterling and Prescott have a happy holiday. This past holiday, Little raised more than $7,000 through his website and Facebook page for the adopt-a-family project.

“We more than doubled what we made last year,” he said. “In 2012, we raised $3,237. This year, we were ecstatic to raise $7,286, not including all the donations of goods and services too.”

Little said he and his mother started volunteering at Christmas time in 2011 and found it be a rewarding experience.

“My mother and I decided to do it because it’s basically just her and I all alone on Christmas, and my birthday is Christmas Eve, so it can be kind of lonely,” he said. “We talked about it and decided to do volunteer work the whole week of Christmas in 2011 and that turned out to be an amazing week.”

Little donated blood to the American Red Cross, helped out at the Pinconning Boys and Girls Club, worked with DoAll Inc. in Bay County and donated to the Pinconning Emergency Food Pantry. Through his efforts, he got word of the adopt-a-family concept.

“Someone mentioned to me that I should adopt a family and help make their Christmas special,” he said. “I loved this idea and went to work looking for a needy family in the area. We had a family brought to our attention that had five children, one being disabled, and both parents lost their jobs near Christmas. They planned on buying their kids gifts at the dollar store and were struggling to keep their home.”

From there, Little sought out donations, and was surprised at the results.

“I had no idea all the support I would get by just simply asking for help and making phone calls to people to try to get this family some assistance,” he said. “Accepting donations in the form of cash and gifts for the kids, my mother and I also more than matched the cash donation and made this family one of our own. Since then we have continued to be close with this family and every family we have helped so far.”

The families Little helped out in 2013 were all facing hard times, much like the first family he helped.

Maria Rodriguez, of Pinconning, was unable to fulfill her job duties when the engine in her car died.

“I was a home health care nurse,” she said. “For me to be able to do my job, I have to have a car to get home to home for my clients. I have several clients that I have to go to their houses to take care of them. … I couldn’t have people dropping me off and picking me up because it’s a violation.”

Rodriguez lost her job, but said she will soon be able to return to work, thanks to Little, who bought her a used car and paid for six months of car insurance payments.

“I cried. He saved me,” she said. “It was just a miracle. I don’t know the words to explain. I am very, very grateful to him.”

Her son Travis Pawlowski also received presents from Little, including action figures, a telescope, clothes and more.

“The smile on his face — he was speechless,” Rodriguez said.

Little also provided them with gift cards and grocery cards.

Colleen Spoor and her five children had to move in with Colleen’s mother in Prescott after their house was found to be contaminated and uninhabitable. Gifts for the kids included an iPod for daughter Julianna, a Nook for 10-year-old Aliyah, cars and Legos for 8-year-old Jakob and clothes and toys for 2-year-old Michael.

“I can’t even put into words how I really felt, because it was amazing,” Colleen said. “All of the help from Rob and the people that donated, the businesses, I couldn’t even put it into words how much I appreciated it.”

“Rob and his mom, Julie, were our angels this year, and I really appreciate everything that everybody did,” she said. “So do my children. They were really, really happy.”

Kitcha Arquette, of Sterling, lost her fiancé to a heart attack in July. She said he had been the primary provider for her and the children living with them, and the holiday was shaping up to be a sad time, but Little stepped in and made everyone happy, especially Arquette, and Little paid the family’s rent and Consumer’s Energy bill for four months.

“I didn’t exactly know what he was doing, but I was speechless when he showed me my rent receipt,” she said. “The waterworks were going to start coming.”

The four children living with her would be secure for several months to play with the toys Little purchased from them.

The fourth and final family Little helped this year was Roseann Buys and her daughter Samantha. Roseann has been dealing with medical issues that have made her unable to work.

“I have some lung issues and back issues, and I haven’t been able to work for a few years,” she said.

Gifts to Roseann and Samantha included various gift and grocery cards, and even $500 in cash to help with bills. Roseann said they were overcome with emotion upon seeing what Little did for them.

“We were both in tears,” she said. “Everything he did for the family — the food card, the gas card, everything was just amazing. Him and his mom, they’ve got a great big spirit. My 17 year old, that was probably the best Christmas she’s had in many, many years.”

Roseann said she has known Little since he was young, and that she doesn’t know if he is aware of the impact he has made through his charitable work.

“I don’t think even he understands how grateful people are,” she said. “He makes people have hope that people out there are really nice.”

As the families who receive the Christmas cheer from Little tend to break down in tears, the comedian typically joins them.

“Usually the parents and myself are crying and hugging after everything is said and done,” he said. “I love kids and have none of my own, so making these kids’ Christmas one to remember just fills my heart with so much joy that I can’t wait to do it all over again next year.”

Little said he has been told he is a hard person to buy gifts for, so he just requests that people give to others instead.

“I truly believe it’s better to give than to receive,” he said. “People say I’m very hard to buy for at Christmas and my birthday, which is Christmas Eve, and that’s simply because I don’t need anything. So I always just tell people if they can either donate or volunteer to help out with my charity, I would accept that as the greatest gift I could ever receive at Christmas time.”

For more information on Rob Little or his charity, visit roblittle.com or facebook.com/roblittlefans.

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