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Mr. Tom still touches lives -- just from afar

Tom Umstead knows that the secret of happiness is serving others

Things changed fast. Mr. Tom misses what was his routine for decades: up before dawn and a day full of may pickups and drop-offs. Lives touched at every stop.

Tom Umstead knows that the secret of happiness is serving others … and this is how he did it every day – until all of our days changed. Dramatically.

“It’s good to see you, Tom...”

I caught up with the youngest 86-year-old we’ve ever met.

“One of my neighbors calls me on this face thing…” Tom laughed.

Over the "facetime thing;" thankful for the technology that can keep us connected.

Tom’s car is no longer overflowing with deliveries. He has stopped that for a while; he promised his family he’d stay home because he’s in the high-risk group to contract coronavirus.

I asked him how hard it is since he’s used to going strong from 4 am to sundown.

“Yup. Seven days a week." He smiled. 

RELATED: 85-year-old man helps others with his 'Mr. Tom's Heart' organization

“I just find other ways to dig up things to do that can help other folks,” he added. “I’m just an old guy but if I do stuff for other folks I get so much more out of it than I do.”

Tom keeps helping as only he can.

“I’m calling seniors who I know don’t have kids or grandkids to help them. I’m checking to see if they are okay; asking if they need something and deliver a meal to them,” he said.

He is hand-making clay crafts for kids in the hospital.

“I said while I’m here I am going to do 100 clay items; I’m up to 700," he said.

On each one: Tom’s motto: "Love never fails."

Volunteers with Mr. Tom’s Heart take them to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta for the patients to paint. And they take care of the food drop-offs

“When we take stuff to the Ronald McDonald House, we just take it to the front door; they don’t ever see us,” he said.  

But they all still feel the love and support.

All of our circumstances may have changed, drastically, but it doesn’t have to change our purpose to help others.

“We’ve been doing this a long long time and we didn’t want to stop,” he said.

Mr. Tom may not be able to drive the city to pick up food right now, but he’s still filling ways to fill any need he sees. And hopeful a lot of goodwill comes from this time apart.

“Maybe get closer together and help each other…”

For more information about Mr. Tom’s Heart, visit the organization’s website.

As we navigate different times, count on 11Alive to share your memorable moments. Use the hashtag #SendTheLoveATL to share photos and videos. We'll get through this together and your acts of kindness all over our community proves that every day. 

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