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Behind the Scenes of Secret Santa and how we helped give away $100,000

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Last week, just four days before Christmas, a Secret Santa and his wife unexpectedly contacted me. They said they wanted to give away $100,000 before Christmas – and they wanted to help.

They made me promise I would never reveal their identity and asked us to help find needy families in our area who could use the money.

My staff and I went to work – and we asked you to identify those truly deserving of this special Christmas surprise.

You responded – in a massive way. In just four days, we received nearly 5,000 emails, messages, Facebook posts, phone calls and even some old-fashioned hand-written letters from east Idahoans telling us about people worthy of a Christmas boost.

Some of your messages left us speechless. Many moved us to tears. All of them made us realize how fortunate we are to live in a community that truly cares about others.

We took your submissions to Mr. and Mrs. Secret Santa and they selected 17 specific families they felt should receive the Christmas cash. It was a tough decision – but they felt strongly about each of those who were picked.

We set up the surprises and arranged to videotape a few of the recipients receiving their gifts. Along with the 250 fast food employees who received $100 each, the total recipients this Christmas was 267.

We did not record most of the events. Some of the best moments happened off-camera – when it was just Santa’s elves and the grateful recipient.

One Blackfoot woman fell to the ground when we showed up at her house – saying she had shared our videos on Facebook but never thought Secret Santa would surprise her.

Another woman chased us down in a Rexburg parking lot after we presented her with $5,000. She said she had seen some of our videos and had prayed the night before – telling God she didn’t need $10,000…just $10 to buy her kids a turkey for Christmas dinner.

Each and every recipient had a different story – and each one taught us a powerful lesson. There are names and faces we will never forget and while our intent was to bless them, they blessed us more than they will ever know.

We truly had the best job in the world last week. Thank you for supporting us, sharing our videos, sending us recommendations of people to surprise and for being such caring people.

We know there are others in our community who regularly perform random, quiet acts of kindness. If you know of other Secret Santa stories, we would love to hear from you.

Our thanks to Secret Santa and his wife for changing so many lives last week – including ours. We have reported what happened and shared the videos with this caring couple. They are delighted with the results.

In fact, the last thing he said to me this morning was, “Let’s do it again next year!”

So the story does not end here. This was just the first chapter. Stay tuned for next Christmas!


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