The video below restores faith in humanity on a number of levels. First, it is put together by Tom Mabe, a man notorious for his prank videos. There’s no prank here, though, just love. And it stars a very interesting man in the role of Santa–a man who brings the spirit of the season to life in his charitable acts of faith. Yet there’s a deeper level of redemption on display.
Herbie Russ is the ideal candidate for the video. His voice is stunning. He’s clearly a talented musician, yet there’s more to his story. Russ was once homeless.
Here’s how his website sum sup his bio: “Herbie dropped out of school in the 11th grade, and was then kicked out of his parent’s home for doing drugs.”
“He was a very gifted saxophone player and would ride his bike 10 miles to play with bands, and his payment would be drugs or drug money.”
“He spent 2 years living in a car and/or couch-surfing, when he wore out his welcome. He then would get himself auditions with acts that were on the road, because he knew he’d get hotel rooms.”
“His singing and playing ability allowed him to live that way for a while. After a gig was up, he’d be back to living in a car because all of his money went to drugs.”
“After years of drifting, homelessness, drugs, and being arrested, he eventually turned to God and said ‘You’ve given me this talent, I need some direction’.”
“At that point, he felt he was led to a homeless shelter, where he offered to sing and play. The director said, ‘We don’t need that. What we need is someone to spackle and repair the walls in the basement. The food is spoiling.’ Herbie saw how bad things could be. People suffering mental illness, severe drug addiction, loss of entire family…”
“He began to donate all the tips from his gigs to the homeless shelter. That amount was eventually THOUSANDS of dollars.”
“To this day, he’ll often hire homeless people to carry his PA and gear. He’s 54 years old, and has been working regularly in Detroit as a musician and vocalist for years.”
“He realizes at 54 he’s just one slip-up away from homelessness…Or losing his regular weekly house gig. He still likes to give to the homeless and remind himself of where he could be…”
The video below shows that generosity.