All News & Blogs
People across the Fredericksburg region respond generously to get Spotsylvania's "summertime Santa Claus" back in business.
On his first day back at work, Richard Foster returned
REZA MARVASHTI/THE FREE LANCE-STAR
View More Images from this story
Visit the Photo Place
By PAMELA GOULD
When Victoria Levi read that the "summertime Santa Claus" hadn't been in her neighborhood since mid-July because his ice cream truck had broken down, she started rallying support for the man she calls "one of the good guys."
Neighbor Jennifer Ludwick joined in the effort to help 75-year-old Richard Foster of Spotsylvania County get back on his feet after seeing the Sept. 22 story in The Free Lance-Star. So did countless area customers, strangers and business owners throughout the Fredericksburg area.
"We understand what it's like to hit on hard times, so we wanted to help him," said Levi, who is celebrating five years since her older daughter was declared cancer-free.
Mackenzie Levi, 7, was diagnosed with a brain tumor at 20 months and underwent surgery and chemotherapy.
She, her 6-year-old sister, Grace, and Ludwick's two children, 8-year-old Sean and 12-year-old Sarah, were among a dozen children in Spotsylvania's Kingswood community who ran a lemonade stand to benefit the man they call "Mr. Richard."
Foster, who has run Richard's Ice Cream Express from his 1979 Chevrolet Step Van for nearly 23 years, lost income last summer when the compressor for the freezer on his truck quit working.
He fell behind on his bills, risked losing his home, and sought help from the food pantry at Christ Church at Spotsylvania Courthouse.
But over the past 10 days, people have come together to meet his needs, overwhelming him in the process.
The Kingswood youngsters collected more than $300 in cash and grocery gift cards, which they gleefully gave him last Wednesday.
"I've never been hugged by so many people at the same time," Foster said, surrounded by children. "I feel loved."
At least four local companies that deal with refrigeration systems offered to diagnose or fix the freezer compressor so he could get back on the road. Foster operates the ice cream truck year-round, traveling to neighborhoods and community pools.
He accepted the offer from John Fick of J.F. Fick Inc., an Anheuser-Busch wholesaler in Spotsylvania.
Fick's crew installed a new clutch for free last week after they tried to pull the truck in for service and realized it needed one. And Lynchburg-based Southern Air, which services the refrigeration components on Fick's trucks, fixed the compressor for free.
Now that Richard Foster's crisis has passed, anyone wanting to help others can donate to Christ Church's food pantry, which serves about 100 families per month.
The pantry operates the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month from 10 a.m.