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So, last week in the little plaza across the street from my office, a guy was begging for money. Not in the usual guy-begging-for-money way though -- this guy was a 20-ish kid with a pink posterboard on an easel, and said posterboard was covered with pictures of a young woman and the phrase "In love! Need $$$ for ring!" On the ground at his feet was a 5-gallon water jug about 1/4 full of change and bills. Apparently some people were falling for this bullshit. Perhaps they thought it was romantic.

Of course, this intrepid panhandler of love got media coverage (it probably wasn't a coincidence that he was begging across the street from Trib Tower/WGN Radio):

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Who knew poster board, some pictures and a water jug could produce diamonds?

That's what seems to have happened for David Holder.

The 24-year-old Elgin native has spent the past two days on Michigan Avenue in Chicago, asking for donations to buy a $4,300 engagement ring for his girlfriend, Kristy Valdes, who lives near St. Charles.

"It seemed so ridiculous it was worth trying," he said.

Holder volunteers at the HELPS Ministry in St. Charles 40 to 50 hours a week and holds down a part-time job on the side, so he needs a little help with the ring finances, he said.

"I just wanted to find a way to make this happen," he said. "I can honestly say she has really changed me. I can't stress enough how much I love her."

Holder had a sign decorated with pictures of his girlfriend that read: "Help Please, In Love ... Need $$$ for Ring!"

Holder's water jug held $80 on Wednesday, but his luck took a turn for the worse, and the better, after a Chicago radio station advertised his plight on Thursday.

The "Eric and Kathy Show" on WTMX-FM 101.9 were discussing an article in a Chicago newspaper about Holder, after which his girlfriend called in to the show, saying someone told her they had named her on the radio.

"She was totally clueless. She had no idea what it was about," said John "Swany" Swanson, the show's executive producer.

The show tried keep Valdes in the dark by putting her on hold while soliciting help for Holder.

"You would not believe how many people and jewelers want to help," Swanson said. "The phones were just smoking."

In addition to pledging rings or money, other businesses wanted to provide a hotel for the honeymoon and other help.

The couple, who have been dating for 13 months, met at the HELPS Ministry near St. Charles. The organization - which stands for Hope, Encouragement, Love, Prayer, Salvation - takes in homeless people, drug and alcohol addicts, and others who need help. Valdes' father, Angelo, runs the group.

Holder hadn't talked to 20-year-old Kristy on Thursday, so he didn't know if the publicity had fully reached her yet.

"I'm scared to find out," he said. "I can only assume she's heard. Now I've got to think of a way to propose to top this."

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Everything about this story sucks ass.

1. I blame the Bridal Industrial Complex, of course. Now, let's give 20-yr-old Kristy the benefit of the doubt here -- perhaps this guy is acting on his own and not buying a budding Bridezilla some freak-ass mondo-ring that she said she just has to have in order to be the specialest pretty princess ever. Perhaps she will be horrified to learn that her boyfriend thought the way to her heart was through begging strangers for money so he could buy a ring that cost more than he probably made all year. But clearly he has successfully internalized the BIC's powerful message that Expensive Thing = Love. And so has everyone who dropped change in his jug. And so have all the jewelers and hoteliers who rushed to his aid (of course, it is in their best interest to keep that myth alive).

2. Diamonds suck. Really, what is the big fucking deal about shiny rocks? Maybe it's my inner socialist talking, but does anyone in the history of anything actually need a $4,300 piece of jewelry? Will it make their marriage last longer?

3. The worst part of it is, David Holder probably means well. I mean, he volunteers full-time with the homeless, for Christ's sake (literally). But even all that exposure to the neediest people in our society -- people who probably have had to beg for money so they could, you know, eat -- has not taught him a damn thing about what's really important in life. Here's hoping his girlfriend rejects his proposal until he grows up.

Replies: 7 Confessions

So let's see...the happy couple is 24 and 20; they've been dating for a whole whopping 13 months; and the prospective groom would rather beg for a diamond than actually get a full-time job to buy one. Oh yeah--this has "divorced in two years" written all over it.

Maybe if we're lucky, they'll put the money toward couples counseling. I have a feeling they may need it eventually anyway.

ChgoRed @ 02/15/2005 09:58 AM CST


I can't wait for the movie!!!!!!1

jima @ 02/15/2005 02:45 PM CST


What a bunch of crap. I would have been livid if I'd seen that.

Anna @ 02/16/2005 01:58 PM CST


Just for that kick-ass reaction to what the local media meant as a warm-fuzzies sort of human interest piece, you are hereby my new favorite blogger.

Avatar @ 02/16/2005 02:32 PM CST


Aw! Now I've got the warm fuzzies!

amyc @ 02/16/2005 04:09 PM CST


This is Valdez teaches the homeless- to be professional panhandlers. He keeps his household running by having people think that he is helping while he mandates that his clients work, pay rent, and panhandle or "beg" for donations from companies and churches- I swear that Angelo is a front for drug running- or worse. He does not himself work, mandated his unordained self as a pastor for these people, and sweats it out to pay his taxes, by $$$ each year. Further, as a panhandler and scam-artist who refuses to keep appropriate records for accountability, he had his mother put him up for Unsung Heros on TV back in 2003- as some big volunteer- when infact he lives off of the proceeds of the donations that come in. Sorry - just the truth from an insider...and observer.

The real story about Valdez @ 05/15/2006 02:27 PM CST


I know this story is old, but looking back at I can't believe how horrible you people are. You do not know this family at all. I grew up in the neighborhood with the Valdes kids, and new Angelo very well. I know for a fact Kristy knew nothing about what her fiance was doing, and she is in no shape or form a gold digger or Bridezilla or whatever you are calling her. She is an amazing person with a heart of gold, along with her father Angelo. You say that he takes the donations to live off of? You're wrong. Angelo works harder than anyone I know, and all of it is to help others. You say he does not work? He doesn't STOP working. He runs a church, a rehab, helps the homeless, takes care of his family, and SO much more. Saying he had his mother put him up for that show is a load of crap. His mother is so proud of everything her son, she did it on her own free will. If any of you spent a week with this family, you would know that everything you're saying is wrong.

Amber @ 05/20/2010 08:38 AM CST


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