Milton Elsberg had a neat career as founder of the late, lamented Drug Fair chain. Last month, he received a letter that wasn't so bad itself.
"When I was a young girl (I am now 32 years old), I visited Drug Fair regularly and shoplifted," the letter began.
"I think I was lonely and was trying to fill up an emptiness inside me with material items. Over the years, I continued this behavior from time to time. I also developed an eating disorder, using food to try to fill up the empty hole.
"For the past nine years, I have been in recovery from my eating disorder. I am in a program called Overeaters Anonymous. It is similar to Alcoholics Anonymous.
"Part of the OA program is to make amends for past wrongs; thus my letter to you.
"I want to apologize for stealing from you and your store. . . . I have enclosed a money order for $300, which is the total amount I estimated to have stolen from you and Drug Fair. Please use it as you see fit."
Brother Elsberg didn't hesitate to send the money order to charity. Overeaters Anonymous got $300 richer.
You still think this is a world of me-first and never-look-back and conscience-be-damned?
Sarah C. Beeler has an idea that our many sidewalk vendors ought to adopt forthwith.
"Last week," she writes, "I passed a spot where a vacated vendor had dumped ice and cooler water on the sidewalk, just steps away from a tree that probably hadn't been watered except from the sky.
"Wouldn't it be nice if he and other vendors dumped their cooler water into tree boxes, flower boxes and on lawns near them, instead of on sidewalks?"
I started to like Ellis Klioze when I found out that his birthday is June 2 (mine, too). I liked him even better when I found out that he's a "bus guy" like me (he rides three to work, three more home).
But I moved all the way to awe when I heard about the milestone Ellis has just reached. Last month, he logged his 22,000th hour as a volunteer at Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring.
A bit of context, as they say in Washington: Ellis Klioze is 95 years old. Will you still be volunteering 33 hours a week when you're that age? I didn't think so.
Ellis first set foot in Holy Cross 20 years ago, after his wife had a stroke. She was a patient there until she died 15 years ago.
Ellis began his volunteer work a week later. He is as regular as the din of Beltway traffic just south of the hospital -- five days a week, 52 weeks a year. He even showed up every day during the legendary blizzard of January 1996. And he does it with an eager smile on his face.
Did someone say that hospital volunteer work faded away back in the days of Ozzie and Harriet? Ellis Klioze knows -- and shows -- otherwise.
SEND A KID TO CAMP
Alex Vazquez dropped me a line from Grand Forks, N.D., the other day. Inside the envelope was a batch of Korean paper money -- and this message:
"My son just returned from his [Air Force] tour of duty in South Korea. While unpacking his stuff, I came across these Korean bills and asked him what I should do with them.
"He said, `Throw them away, keep them, whatever. (He's 20 and still thinks money grows on trees.)'
"Anyway, I remember that when we were in Virginia (Springfield) and received my Post daily, Bob Levey's Washington was my favorite column. I said to myself, `Isn't it Send a Kid to Camp time?'
"At that time (1997), you accepted foreign currency. I hope you still do and can convert this Korean money to U.S. dollars (it's worth around ten bucks)."
You rang the right bell, Alex. Yes, this sure is Send a Kid to Camp time -- the height of the season, in fact. Yes, I still accept foreign money and convert it into U.S. dollars.
We hope to send nearly 1,000 underprivileged children to camp this summer. Camp has always been an eye-opener for the kids we help -- a rare chance to escape squalid surroundings and learn about the glory of the outdoors. Camp also teaches lessons that come home on the bus -- how to operate in a group, how to be a leader, how to be self-reliant.
Our campaign not only gives a child a better summer, but it strengthens our community. Alex's gift will help us get there. So will yours.
Our goal by July 30: $550,000.
In hand as of June 29: $155,070.82.
TO CONTRIBUTE TO THE CAMPAIGN:
Make a check or money order payable to Send a Kid to Camp and mail it to Bob Levey, The Washington Post, Washington, D.C. 20071.
BY VISA OR MASTERCARD:
Call Post-Haste at 202-334-9000 on a touch-tone phone. Then punch in K-I-D-S, or 5437, and follow instructions.