Secret Santa doles out money and a message this year

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. - Most of us will be giving gifts on Christmas day to someone we know and love. But, have you ever given a gift to someone you do not know?

It is what Secret Santa has been doing since Thanksgiving this year.
       
He calls them his "Sleigh Rides."

The highly secretive Santa has been doling out crisp $100 bills, stamped in red with his Secret Santa name, since 2007.

The wealthy Kansas City metro businessman took over for his friend and original Secret Santa, Larry Stewart, after Stewart passed away.

Secret Santa has a very public mission.

He said, while clinching a wad of $100 bills in an Independence thrift store last week, "You're touching souls and changing lives."
 
As he walked the aisles of the thrift store, he said he often seeks out a certain something.

"When I first go up to someone, I'll look for sadness in the face," he said. "And when I see sadness, I'll walk up and give them $100."

He approached one woman shopping for $3.99 used shirts.

"Ma'am, you dropped something."

"No," she told him as she looked down at the $100 bill.

He responded, "That must be yours, it says 'Secret Santa' on it."

Her straight face became a stunned smile, "Thank you!!"

Secret Santa said giving to others is a gift for him, too.

"It gives me great joy to give them hope that their lives can be changed, can be different."

Another recipient gasps when she realizes it's Secret Santa and the money is really hers.

"I don't deserve this!"

Their elation, they said, comes less from the money, and more from his selfless act of kindness.

"Just for him to come back here and say 'Thank you,' means a lot," a thrift shop employee said.

Secret Santa has given away a lot -- more than a $100,000 a year. It  is why he travels with law enforcement "elves."
    
He keeps his identity a secret so that his acts are not about him, but about people who receive his unconditional love.
      
One tearful woman, who said she didn't know how she would be able to afford Christmas, said, "People still do this. I don't see this much anymore. It's wonderful!

Secret Santa goes on his missions with money and a message: Pass on the gift of kindness.

"Nothing gives me greater joy than people being Secret Santas all over the world."

Secret Santa hit Los Angeles last week and plans to travel worldwide next year.  


 

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