When FishHawk residents and retirees Andy and Linda DeGagne received a gift five years ago, they didn’t know it would inspire them to share that gift with thousands of people.
The gift giver was Sun City Center resident Sam Pantano, and the gift was a unique LED night-light, which he gave them at a luncheon.
“I was really impressed with its unique design,” said Andy.
Pantano, who was in his 80s at the time and has passed away, designed the night-light himself, utilizing an LED base, safety pins, beads, wire and glue. Before he died, he taught his friend, Drew Godmar, how to make them, then she taught Andy and Linda.
“Sam was a religious man, and we loved the idea of sharing light with others, so we decided to continue his legacy,” said Linda.
The night-lights cost a few dollars each to make. They purchase the beads and safety pins from Amazon and buy the bases from Walmart. Inflation hasn’t spared the night-light materials; the cost of each base recently increased from $1.50 to $2.
The couple has made more than 2,000 night-lights, giving them to servers, hostesses, salespeople, employees at local doctors’ offices and anyone else who looks like they need a gift. When bestowing the light, they always say “God bless you” so they know the original gift giver.
“People are surprised because they’ve never seen a night-light like these and it puts a smile on their face,” said Andy. “It makes us feel good and it makes the person receiving it feel good.”
On a recent flight out of Tampa, they handed over a night-light to the employee helping them check in, who was working hard on a holiday. She showed it off to her fellow coworkers so each of them received one as well.
“That happens a lot,” said Linda.
This month while eating at Cappy’s in Bloomingdale, the couple gave their server a night-light. She was happy to receive it and proudly showed it off to the kitchen staff. One grateful staff member came to their table and recollected that they’d given her one at her last job.
With the demand for night-lights so strong, you’d think the retirees would want to set up shop at local craft fairs. “Nope, we don’t want to sell them,” they said. “Our reward is the joy we get from giving them away.”