We asked how Secret Santa has changed you this holiday season. Here’s how you responded.

Secret Santa

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EastIdahoNews.com is spreading Christmas cheer with the help of a Secret Santa who asked us to help him give away $250,000 this holiday season.

Nominations are being accepted until Christmas day for individuals and families truly in need. Every nomination is read, and Secret Santa decides how he can best help as many people as possible. The EastIdahoNews.com elves surprise the recipients and record many of their reactions. Some stories are too sensitive to share publicly, but we hope you feel the Christmas spirit as you watch and share these videos with your friends and family members.

We are no longer accepting submissions for Secret Santa 2018. Thank you for helping Secret Santa make this Christmas special for so many.

Over the last few weeks, EastIdahoNews.com has helped a Secret Santa give out $250,000 to deserving people across eastern Idaho. With the help of social media and national news coverage, millions around the world have now seen the touching surprises. We’ve received thousands of messages about how Secret Santa has inspired you this Christmas.

Here are some of the comments sent to EastIdahoNews.com this year.

This year, we showed our children the videos. My 10-year-old has aspirations of becoming Tony Stark – he wants to build real Iron Man suits and be filthy rich. After seeing the videos, he said he wants to use his riches to help Secret Santa. We have also come up with a new tradition for next year. On our birthdays and next Christmas, not only will we receive presents, we will donate a gift. – Carlos in Menan

Been a crummy year for us, but happened to see your Secret Santa episodes. Thank you. Thank you because it made me realize how great my life really is and to not feel down about what I go through as those folks on your program truly have either gone through tremendous adversity or are very sick. I am so fortunate. It also showed me that compassion and love is still alive. – Ed in Michigan

In my line of work, the winter/Christmas season becomes very stressful and busy and especially with the dark Alaskan winters it can be difficult for me to stay in the Christmas spirit. The Secret Santa videos inspire me to focus and serve those around me. I’ve found that as I make an effort to focus on the needs of others my life and Christmas is much more joyful. Thank you Secret Santa and East Idaho News for these wonderful stories that have inspired myself and others to do good this Christmas! – David in Wasilla, Alaska

Secret Santa doesn’t ask for anything back and I love that we have people in the community who want to help others. The stories touch my heart and I cry at each story. I’m a social worker and I love serving and helping others. Thank you Secret Santa for blessing others lives in our community. – Kimberly in Idaho Falls

If I’m feeling grinchy, I just watch the Secret Santa segments and they always make my heart happy! Secret Santa has blessed some truly deserving people this season. It makes me want to give more! – Bonny in Salt Lake City, Utah

I have loved all of the Secret Santa videos! I have cried through them all, as I knew one of the receivers. I am so grateful for Secret Santa and their willingness to give back anonymously in immensely generous ways. This is such a special way to help those in our community. – Emily in Provo, Utah

Secret Santa really helps me feel the true spirit of Christmas. This is what Christ would be doing if He were here. – Susie in Arizona

I am a single mom of 3 so I get the struggles and when I have rough days, sad days even happy days, sometimes a video or story can help you through whatever it is you are going through. Watching these videos fills my heart with so much joy and it makes me want to be better at serving others. Secret Santa is making miracles happen and is relighting the Spirit of Christmas and that is how we all should be! I love it!!! – Lynessa in Kansas

I have enjoyed watching the secret Santa surprises so much! They are deeply touching and very moving. It’s so nice to see something positive going around, especially around the holidays which can be a difficult and lonley time for many. It reminds me of the good in people, and the world, which is very uplifting and encouraging. It reminds us all to be kind and give because you never know what someone might be going through.
– Cindy in Idaho

I just can’t believe that these stories are real sometimes. They have filled my heart with so much love and inspiration. In a world with so many ugly and bad things, these stories have given me a chance to smile, to feel joy and also to shed many tears of happiness! What a wonderful thing to have happen in Idaho! God Bless you secret Santa! – Merla in Idaho

It has restored my faith in humanity! My mom was a single parent and seeing all these moms/women get some much needed help, it makes my heart so happy. I’ve shed many happy tears watching all the videos. – Chelsey in Pocatello

It started as a uplifting morning ritual to watch secret santa on East Idaho News. As stories continued I wanted to do my small part giving back this holiday Season. I am very blessed and I wanted to shed some holiday cheer. I took our local Cafe Rio employees some cocoa bean cupcakes in appreciation of how kind and happy they always are. I’m a fan of happy people and smiles and I felt they deserved a little Christmas cheer from me. I love paying it forward and I’m always looking for ways to do so. – Anonymous in Shelley

I’ve seen the videos on Facebook and I’ve shared them with my friends and family. It makes me so happy that there are still amazing people out there. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. – Camilla in Canada

This Christmas has been more of a challenge for me and my kids than normal so it has been so fun to watch the Secret Santa videos every day to help boost our Christmas spirit. I usually try and watch them in the morning to start my day off with something positive and something that usually makes me cry (but in a good way)! It also helps me remember to keep my eyes open for the little ways I can be a Secret Santa too! – Carrie in Idaho Falls

Just knowing that you have helped people that I care about has been a blessing to me. I don’t have much but this helped me to know there are people so generous! – Kristine in Bountiful, Utah

My co-workers would gather around a cell phone at work in the morning and watch the latest Secret Santa surprise on Facebook. We would share how we knew the person who was being surprised and often become emotional watching the video. – Katlyn in Idaho Falls

The first secret Santa videos I saw was when Secret Santa just began. I was in my first trimester of pregnancy, incredibly sick and was not in the mood for Christmas at all. I started watching these Secret Santa videos regularly and I noticed my mood changing. I no longer felt sorry for myself. They truly bring the Christmas spirit!! I have even had my LDS primary class watch a few of these videos to show them the true meaning of Christmas. I am normally not one to cry, but some of these stories really strike a tender spot in my heart. – GeAnna in Malad

Secret Santa has shown me that there is so much love and generosity in the world, and I have chances to help others. – Bailey in Idaho Falls

First thing I do every morning when I arrive at the office (clear down in California) is turn on the computer and check East Idaho News and the Secret Santa videos. It has made a wonderful start to my day these last couple of weeks. Thank you for spreading some joy during this special time of the year. – Daniel in California

This is what the world needs. It’s more than seeing the smiles on their faces and the good feeling that we get in our hearts as we watch it. You are changing these peoples’ lives for good in ways that will last well beyond the season, and what you are doing will influence thousands, dare I say millions, of others to do and be good as well. You will likely never know the extent of your reach, but those you reach will always remember what you’ve done for them. – D.F. in Rigby

Every time I watch a Secret Santa video I am brought to tears. It has enriched my holiday season by showing me there are still such wonderful people around us. This reminds me of what is truly important. These families that you have chosen are always so deserving and grateful and I it warms my heart to see it. – Jonie in Idaho Falls

I felt moved to help others this year after seeing the reactions of the recipients. Even though my family is struggling with money this year, we decided to do a 12 days of Christmas – Secret Santa style. My kids have had fun picking what gift to deliver and my son has enjoyed being “Santa”. This will be a tradition we continue for more years. -Kimberly in Stansbury Park, Utah

Seeing such wonderful gifts given to such deserving people has inspired my family to do whatever we can to help as well. This year my children went through all their toys and clothes and each of them put together a box to donate to a needy family or shelter. My husband and I have done the same and we decided to pay for another family’s meals a couple of times when we have gone out. I look forward to this time of year just to see the joy and appreciation from the recipients of this amazing gift. – Jennifer in Ammon

Just knowing that someone thought of them to submit their stories has to make them feel loved and then get a gift that helps – it’s icing on the cake. Reminds me that this holiday isn’t about stress and spending but about showing love to our neighbors and offering a helping hand. Thank you Secret Santa and EIN -you have rekindled the Christmas spirit. – Becky in Idaho

I am a local middle school health teacher and in class, we address ways to relieve stress. One way the kids always mention is to try and forget about your stressful situation for awhile. One way to forget about it is by doing something nice for someone else. That is where the SS videos come in. You would be surprised at the amazing discussions SS videos have generated among 12, 13, and 14 year old students!! Thank You! – Anonymous

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