This year Bob Shook received the only gift he wanted: to spend Christmas with his wife.
Since late October, Beth Shook has been deployed to New York City as a Red Cross volunteer to help in the hurricane Sandy recovery process. However, because of work obligations, Shook was forced to stay behind in Cuba where the couple lives.
"This isn't the first time that we've been apart for a while because she's gone to help people who have been devastated by disaster," said Shook. "During hurricane Katrina she was gone for six months. She was deployed in New York City for six months before during 9/11, as well. So these types of deployments are not unusual for her."
Bob?Shook is pictured outside the Emergency Response Vehicle before leaving for New York City to be reunited with his wife, Beth, who is a Red Cross volunteer working on Hurricane Sandy recovery efforts.
Although they may be used to having distance in between them, it doesn't mean the Shooks enjoy it, especially during holidays.
This year the Shooks faced the possibility they might not be together on Christmas this year because of Mrs. Shook's deployment.
However, a wonderful scenario unfolded which allowed Shook to spend the holiday in New York City volunteering with Mrs. Shook.
"I looked at my vacation, and I saw I still had a lot of time left," said Shook. "I realized I could get this week off, so I figured that I could probably go out there and volunteer as well. ... I asked Tina Jones if I could go out there and volunteer for only a week, because normally the Red Cross wants at least two weeks of dedication, but Tina called around and made it happen."
Shook left for New York City on Saturday and has been volunteering as an Emergency Response Vehicle driver during the day. At night he meets up with Mrs. Shook, and the couple enjoys dinner and time together.
"When I found out it was going to happen, I was excited for two reasons," said Shook. "It was excited to see Beth, and I was excited to help out with the recovery process. I've never helped out with a major disaster before, so I really wanted to get out there and do my part to help. When Beth found out, she thought it was great because we could save the Red Cross money because we'd share a hotel."
And just because Shook is now in the city with Mrs. Shook for Christmas, it doesn't mean the Shooks won't be doing everything they can to aid in recovery as much as they can.
"I've been driving the truck around (on Christmas Eve) handing out meals and water where I can, and Beth has been at the headquarters working as well," said Shook. "Tonight when we get done, we'll go have a nice dinner and celebrate, but then it's back to the same thing (on Christmas). Once we're done with our work (on Christmas), though, we'll have another nice dinner and spend some time together."
The Shooks inspiration for wanting to be so active in disaster recovery stems from when the Red Cross provided them with food and shelter in 1972 when hurricane Agnes flooded their house.
"When we were in crisis, the Red Cross gave us shelter and food, and we've never forgotten that," said Shook. "I think that if you're not helping others, or you're not trying to make the world a better place, I'm not sure why you're here. I feel that individuals have a responsibility to help others when they can. It's the way I was brought up and I think it's the way Beth was brought up as well. I'm glad I get to see Beth for Christmas, but I'm more glad that we're in a position where we can help others during Christmas as well."