INSP Advent Calendar: day five

Feeling Christmassy yet? Count down to Christmas with our vendors and #INSPadvent! Come back tomorrow to open the next window in our uplifting advent calendar.

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Russell Adams has sold StreetWise in Chicago for 12 years.

Russell Adams, 56, Chicago (StreetWise’s Vendor of the Year)

I didn’t have a job when I first came to StreetWise 12 years ago, and right away I was very successful. I started selling at Washington and Wells. Now I work at Clark and Lake. I used to sell the Sun Times, so I had an idea of how to sell the magazines. I was never homeless; and now I live on the west side. I’ve been sober for eight years; now I’m able to save my money for things that matter, I’m able to pay all the bills I’ve been needing to pay off.

What is the best Christmas present you’ve ever received?

Last year, my girlfriend bought me a laptop. I can’t put it down. I watch videos, I keep up with the news and with sports, so that I’m prepared for SportsWise. It was the best present because it meant something to me, I still have it.

How do you plan to spend Christmas this year?

My family’s spread out throughout the country. So I’ll be spending it with my girlfriend’s family. I’ll get to watch TV all day, watch the basketball and football games, watch the kids open their presents, have some conversations, just enjoy the day.

If you did not sell a street paper, how do you think you might be spending Christmas this year?

If I wasn’t selling StreetWise, I’d probably be on the streets, spending it in a shelter and taking advantage of their services. I never went home before selling StreetWise, I’d be on the streets. I’d be wasting my time doing drugs.

Do you have a special Christmas message for your customers?

Happy Holidays. God bless them, their families. Enjoy Christmas; Christ died for our sins, so celebrate Christmas. If I could, I’d buy you all presents. I like to buy the plastic protectors to put the magazine in and a Christmas card.

Happy holidays to all my customers and their families, and all the blessings to you!

What is a traditional Christmas greeting in your area?

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year. A lot of people don’t celebrate Christmas so I’ll say Happy Holidays or Seasons Greetings!