FAQ about Secret Santa
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Is the Secret Santa a real person?
Yes. The Secret Santa is a native Idahoan who lives in eastern Idaho. The money comes directly from him – not some program, organization or trust fund.
I want to nominate somebody. Do they really need to live in eastern Idaho?
As a rule, yes. The Secret Santa has asked East Idaho News to help him find and vet potential recipients and be his conduit for delivering the gifts. We simply do not have the resources to work outside eastern Idaho. Secret Santa wishes he could help people in every state and country, but, at this point, that isn’t possible.
Can I nominate myself?
No. All nominees must be submitted by someone else.
How do I nominate somebody in need?
Nominations are only accepted here. Be sure to include as many details as you can about the nominee’s circumstances and mention the specific needs they have. Every nomination form is read.
What are the requirements to receive a gift from Secret Santa?
The recipient must live in eastern Idaho and must have a true need. If you wonder what a “true need” is or are unsure if your nominee will qualify for a gift, submit your nomination.
What kind of needs will Secret Santa meet?
The most important thing to remember is the nominee must have a legitimate need. Almost everyone would enjoy money or a car – but we need to know why someone needs it. Normally, we look for responsible and deserving citizens who have done everything in their power to care for themselves but have had ill-fortune or special situations that have put them at a significant disadvantage. In the past, Secret Santa has provided washers and dryers, furniture, special computers, dental care, diapers, gas cards and other items.
How are Secret Santa recipients decided?
Once nomination forms are read, they are discussed by a committee. Potential recipients are then vetted with numerous sources to make sure their story checks out. Secret Santa provides input, and finalists are chosen. Submitting numerous forms for the same person does not increase the chances of being picked – neither does calling or emailing the EastIdahoNews.com newsroom.
How will I know if my nominee has been chosen to receive a gift?
We will likely be in touch with you if your nominee is a potential gift recipient; however, we never want recipients tipped off before we surprise them, so you may not know they’ve been chosen until you see their video on EastIdahoNews.com.
Do Secret Santa recipients have to pay taxes or fees on their gifts?
No. Recipients of gifts are not taxed by the IRS. However, on some large gifts over $15,000, the giver must pay a gift tax to the IRS. Secret Santa pays all the necessary gift taxes and sales tax on all gifts. Many wonder if Secret Santa gets a tax break on the gifts he gives away. Since these are gifts, and not business expenses, Secret Santa cannot claim these as tax deductions. He receives no tax benefit on this endeavor whatsoever.
How long has EastIdahoNews.com been working with Secret Santa?
Secret Santa and EastIdahoNews.com have been surprising people in need since 2015. That year, Secret Santa gave away $100,000. The amount has increased every year since then. Last year Secret Santa gifted more than $500,000. This year it will be more than $500,000. A LOT MORE!
Are all of the Secret Santa surprises recorded and posted on EastIdahoNews.com?
Most of them. There are some sensitive situations where we deliver a gift without cameras, and sometimes we record a surprise, but the recipient is uncomfortable with us posting the video. We love sharing as many videos as possible, but the most important part of Secret Santa is making sure those in need receive their gift.
Why does Secret Santa do what he does? What is his motivation?
Secret Santa tells us about one Christmas when he was a young man living temporarily in a foreign country. Since he was away from home, he was not expecting any Christmas gifts but on Christmas morning, when he sat down for breakfast, there was a gift at his table.
It was not an expensive gift, and it was anonymous. It was the only Christmas gift he received that year, and it had a big impact on him. He did not know who it was from, but he knew someone loved and cared about him and that lifted him up beyond what anyone could imagine.
To this day, he has no idea who gave him that small gift. But it still brings a flood of good feelings to him every time he relives that moment.
Today, there are countless people around him who love him, and he wants others to know that there are people who love them and care about them. He believes that giving anonymously with no expectation of receiving anything in return is the ultimate expression of love and caring. He wants others to have the experience that he did as a young man over 50 years ago.
Can I make a monetary donation to Secret Santa or send him a letter?
Secret Santa appreciates anyone who wants to help, but he is not asking for donations. He encourages you to find someone in your own community who needs help and make an anonymous gift – then pay attention to how that brightens your day. His message to the world: Everyone can be a Secret Santa!
Letters to Secret Santa can be sent to:
c/o Nate Eaton
390 West Sunnyside Road
Idaho Falls, ID 83402