Secret Santa surprises widow who wants to help grieving children
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EDITOR’S NOTE: A Secret Santa and his wife have asked EastIdahoNews.com to help them give away $100,000 to deserving people and families living in east Idaho.
Since we announced the Secret Santa campaign last month, over 1,000 nominations have been submitted. From now until Christmas, Santa’s “elves” will be delivering surprises to many in our community.
Some of the deliveries will be recorded – many will not.
If you’d like to nominate someone for a Secret Santa surprise, click here.
IDAHO FALLS — It’s been a painful two years for Anna Long and her two children.
The young mother, her 9-year-old son and 7-year-old daughter recently moved to Idaho Falls from Boise after her husband, Sam, suddenly died in February 2015 at the age of 39.
Anna began searching for bereavement groups her young children to attend. She was surprised to learn there aren’t any in Idaho Falls.
Anna made the decision to partner with Hospice of Eastern Idaho and organize a group for grieving children called Heartstone. The group involves professional counselors and can cost up to $5,000 a year to successfully operate.
When Secret Santa and his wife heard about Anna’s project, they decided to donate $3,000 to the cause.
Watch the EastIdahoNews.com surprise Anna with the incredible news!
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FAMILY OF IDAHO FALLS POLICE OFFICER
Idaho Falls Police Officer Sabas Flores unexpectedly passed away in August – leaving behind two daughters and a son.
The EastIdahoNews.com elves partnered with the Idaho Falls Police Department and surprised his family with a $10,000 check from Secret Santa. IFPD also presented his kids with some special gifts.
MICHELLE HAYCOCK FAMILY OF BONNEVILLE COUNTY
Three years ago Michelle Haycock’s husband died in a tragic car accident. She was left with five kids and a stack of overwhelming bills.
Michelle decided to go back to school and, just weeks ago, earned her associate’s degree.
The EastIdahoNews.com elves presented her with a $5,000 check from Secret Santa.
LORI PENDLETON FAMILY OF SHELLEY
The EastIdahoNews.com elves surprised Lori Pendleton after she had just returned from Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center with her daughter.
Lori is raising six children on her own and drives a school bus for Shelley Joint School District #60.
Superintendent Bryan Jolley helped surprise Lori with a $5,000 check from Secret Santa.
CHARESE PURSER FAMILY OF SUGAR CITY
Charese Purser works as a secretary at Sugar-Salem High School and cleans buildings at night to earn some extra money.
Secret Santa heard about the single mother of five and sent his EastIdahoNews.com elves to surprise her with a $5,000 check.
SCHOFIELD FAMILY OF MADISON COUNTY
When Secret Santa and his wife heard the Schofield family only had $30 to last until January, they knew they needed to help.
The EastIdahoNews.com elves and the Madison County School District surprised the family with a $1,000 gift card to Broulim’s and a $1,000 gift card to Kohl’s.
RACHELLE FLOWERS FAMILY OF IDAHO FALLS
Rachelle Fowers is a single mother of three who has battled kidney problems for years. She is forced to take several trips a month to Salt Lake City for medical care.
Secret Santa and his wife heard about Rachelle and decided to send their EastIdahoNews.com elves over with a $1,000 check.
WELLS FAMILY OF IDAHO FALLS
17-year-old Kristen Wells has an extremely rare disease called Niemann-Pick Type C (often referred to as “Childhood Alzheimer’s.”) She and her parents have to travel to Washington D.C. every month for medical testing.
Secret Santa and his wife had the EastIdahoNews.com elves surprise the Wells with a $5,000 check.
MELINDA YOUNG FAMILY OF ST. ANTHONY
One week before Christmas, Melinda Young woke up to her house on fire. She and her husband, Kurtis, along with their three children, were able to get out but Kurtis died hours after the fire.
Secret Santa and his wife heard Melinda would be starting over without a spouse and without a house so they decided to surprise her with $10,000.
STEPHANIE EMPEY FAMILY OF IDAHO FALLS
Stephanie Empey is a secretary at Dora Erickson Elementary School. She has spent her life caring for others – often sacrificing her own health to make sure those around her at okay.
Secret Santa and his wife wanted to surprise Stephanie with a $10,000 check.