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Neighborhood spotlight: Giving thanks

For Shawn Kresge of Jim Thorpe, actions really do speak louder than words. His gratitude for the good fortune that has come his way in his life continues to be expressed in more than just saying thank you.

A week ago, in cooperation with the Lions Club of Jim Thorpe, Kresge, owner of the Shawn Kresge Electric Heating and Air Conditioning Services, installed Christmas lights at the AJ Baddick bridge in Jim Thorpe without charge.

“I like to give back to the community,” Kresge said. “I learned a long time ago that we all need help with something and to return the favor is the right thing to do.”

Kresge said that when someone gives you a job, that’s another way of helping you out. He’s worked ever since he was a kid. He cleaned the cages of bobcats and foxes a man was raising. He delivered the Times News and the Morning Call on walking and bicycling paper routes. As a boy, he helped clean up the Phifer Dam in Franklin Township.

“That was no more than a swamp back in the day,” he said. “Now it’s also a baseball field complex, and recently we fixed the lights and the scoreboard there and at Sam Miller Field in Jim Thorpe, too.”

He worked at Dorney Park. Then, when he was 16, he helped remodel the Trainer’s Inn in Lehighton, where he was paid $5 an hour.

His work ethic that he said began in the third grade continued through his years at Lehighton High School when he worked 40 hours a week stacking hay on a farm and still managed to get to school every day.

“Work is opportunity to make money, and when we have some money we should give back as an expression of our gratitude.”

Each year, Kresge, who bought his first house when he was 20 years old, buys 70 to 80 turkeys from Koch’s Turkey Farm and donates them to local food banks. This year his donation was reduced to 50 turkeys because of pandemic issues.

“Even more than years before, this year, it’s important to be kind and generous. The whole world needs it.”

Kresge takes a positive outlook on life when he leaves for work every day. “You have a lot of bad days,” he said. “but you realize that they’re not a bad as you had thought. It’s just not worth carrying all that baggage around with you.”

This self-made man learned about heating and cooling systems while taking a night class at Carbon Career & Technical Institute, and the rest of his business knowledge is self-taught.

“Your success today doesn’t count toward your success tomorrow. That’s another reason why I like to donate my services. I understand what failure is and that people who are down and out need whatever time and goods we can give them until they get back on their feet.

His philosophy is basic and simple. “Life is a game that you don’t win at every day, but you have to keep playing.”

Kresge, who never went to college, says he learns something new every day. “I spent my college tuition money on buying houses, cars and a business,” he said. “That was the cheaper way to make money for me.”

He likes to pay it forward and he sends out a call to action for others to do the same.

“We need more people to be kind and helpful, especially with the way things are going.”

“Things are going” in the right direction for Shawn Kresge, and that’s back into the community, where his kindness and helpfulness have made the neighborhood a bit brighter with the Christmas lights and a little less hungry with his donated turkey dinners.

Thanksgiving turned around is “Giving thanks,” and that’s what he does every year.

To nominate someone for the monthly Neighborhood Spotlight feature, send details to tneditor@tnonline.com.

Shawn Kresge believes in giving back to the community. For a video about volunteering, see tnonline.com. BOB FORD/TIMES NEWS