This time of year is known to be the season of giving, but there are some people in this world that choose to make the act of giving a way of life. For this Acushnet-born man, being generous is in his blood.

Thanks to Facebook, I stumbled upon his latest act of kindness of giving away oil to families in need.

Hank Benoit has lived on the SouthCoast for his entire life. He was born and raised in Acushnet and moved to New Bedford in 1976 with his wife of 30 years, Julie.

“New Bedford has my body, but Acushnet has my soul,” Hank said.

He worked for his father’s fencing company, New Bedford Wire and Ironworks, and took over the business with his brother in 1975. After a falling out between the brothers, Hank started his own business with his son called Fence Men. He retired, unwillingly, in 2007 due to arthritis.

We spoke on the phone for quite some time, and it was clear that Hank has worked hard his entire life.

“My husband was the best fencer in the business,” Julie said with pride.

Hank has been retired for a little while now and it appears that acts of generosity are one of his favorite pastimes.

“I went on to All Things Acushnet (a local Facebook group) and said 'I'm offering 100 gallons of home heating oil to someone who really needs it,'" he said.

“When I heard what he did,” Julie said, “I said, ‘You’re gonna get 500 people answering that!’ This is what my husband does. He’s a very generous person. He’s been doing this for years, but now it’s on Facebook.”

Hank said he received dozens of emails from people and learned about their hardships. He couldn’t just pick one family. He ended up choosing four, giving away a total of 400 gallons of oil, just so families can stay warm this winter.

I asked him why, and his response was steadfast.

“It’s in my nature," he said. "My parents were giving people, and I think I inherited it. I’ve never been broke in my life and I like to pass some of my blessings along.”

Hank said that he’s been blessed his entire life and it feels good to give back to people.

My heart was so full after talking to Mr. and Mrs. Benoit. This was a guy who would buy air conditioners for people in the summer months, pick up people's tipped-over garbage cans, and constantly give to others without expecting anything in return.

Some people are fueled by hate or competition, while others are simply fueled by the act of giving and lending a hand when it’s not expected of them.

Hank has been generous in the shadows for years. I’m excited to bring a man like this into the spotlight.

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