Comments & Curiosities: Giving back with a passion

December 11, 2010|By Peter Buffa

Are people really nicer at Christmas?

I think so. I know I am.

Most of the year, I just know that if I see another story about the Kardashian sisters, I'm moving to the smallest village I can find in Moldavia. But this time of year I tell myself, "Know what? I have no idea what they do or why they're famous, but just go with it. It's Christmas."

But there is at least one man in Costa Mesa who is not only super nice all year long, but even nicer at Christmas, which is funny, because Christmas is not exactly a red letter day on his calendar.


His name is Surat Singh. He came here from India in 1982, politely introduced himself to the American dream, and they have been good friends ever since. From the first moment he arrived in these United States, Singh embraced the concept of giving back, even when he didn't have much to give back, or forward. Now that he does, as the owner of Angel's Auto Spa in Costa Mesa and other ventures, Singh gives back with a passion.

For years, he has sponsored a Thanksgiving feast at the Costa Mesa Senior Center for almost 200 fully mature people who have nowhere else to celebrate the big T-Day. This year, Singh is sponsoring the Center's "Breakfast with Santa," again, for a group of women and men for whom Christmas Day wouldn't be much different than a week ago Tuesday if it weren't for Singh's extremely large heart, which is not to be confused with an enlarged heart, which is something else. As a keepsake, everyone who wants one gets a picture with the Big Jolly Guy with the Red Suit and the Ho Ho Laugh.

According to Aviva Goelman, the Senior Center's executive director, as holiday stories go, this one is not only fun but very international.

"Our seniors get a wonderful 'Breakfast with Santa' on Christmas Eve, thanks to a devout Sikh from India, arranged by a nice Jewish girl from Israel by way of Montreal, which would be me," Goelman said.

As if sponsoring the Christmas Eve breakfast weren't enough, Singh also provided the live tree for the Christmas lighting party at the Center.

"Most of the regulars at Angel's Auto Spa only know him as 'Angel,' but to all of us at the Center, Mr. Singh is a real angel, and we are very lucky to have him."

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