Joshua Evans, Homeless Family Man-Turned- Army Sergeant, Pays It Forward

Despite today's blog posts from yours truly, not all stories from the long holiday layover involved homeless men being fatally stabbed, Christmastime murder-suicides or New Year's Eve party stabbings. Take the inspiring tale of U.S. Army Sgt. Joshua Evans. Six years ago, the Long Beach man was jobless, homeless and hopeless, living with his wife and daughter out of a car. Over the holidays, Evans launched a charity to help others now in the predicament he found himself in after the Internet company he worked at went bust.

As John Vandiver over at Stars and Stripes reports, the nonprofit is called Operation: Santa's Soldiers, and it;s been outfitting the homeless of Minneapolis with boots and winter coats.

The idea for the charity reportedly came during Evans' current deployment to Kuwait, where the 33-year-old serves with the 56th Signal Company. With donations from fellow soldiers at Camp Arifjan, Operation: Santa's Soldiers acquired 60 winter coats and 60 waterproof boots that were delivered to Simpson Housing Services, a Minnesota-based homeless support organization, in time for Christmas.

Evans knows what life is like for those struggling in the streets, telling Vandiver he relied on odd jobs for meals and the occasional motel room and homeless shelters for clothes and food for his family.

Things got so bad that the Evanses sent their daughter to live with his in-laws. After the family was separated for about a year, his wife told him to find a job or she was going to leave. As a last resort, Evans joined the Army, and he credits the military with turning his life around.

He is now turning to social networking to keep his charity humming, reaching out through Facebook for folks who want to continue helping "in a pay-it-forward kind of way," something he does as a soldier--for Santa and otherwise.


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