UK & World News

  • 30 November 2012, 12:51

'Secret Santa' Gives $100k To Sandy Survivors

A wealthy American businessman posing as a "secret Santa" is giving away $100,000 in $100 bills to survivors of Superstorm Sandy.

The benefactor is from Kansas City, Missouri and insists on not being named or photographed.

On Thursday, he spent the day in New Jersey and New York thrusting crisp bills into the hands of stunned residents.

"It's about the random acts of kindness," he said.

"I'm just setting an example, and if 10% of the people who see me emulate what I'm doing, anybody can be a Secret Santa."

In Staten Island, his motorcade passed homes surrounded by debris before stopping at a disaster centre run by volunteers.

Carol Hefty, a 72-year-old retiree living in a damaged home, could hardly believe it when she was handed one of the notes.

"But this isn't real money," she said at first, glancing at the red "Secret Santa" stamped onto the $100.

"It is, and it's for you," the businessman told the woman, who broke down in tears and hugged him.

During the day, the man's security entourage - police officers in uniform from New York and New Jersey, plus FBI agents and former agents - kept a close watch over the cash handouts.Some wore caps marked with the word "elf".

He himself wears an "elf" cap and a red top, plus blue jeans.

At a Staten Island Salvation Army store, Janice Kennedy, 41, was overwhelmed to receive four $100 bills.

Unemployed with a two-year-old daughter, she lost her home in the storm and lives with her boyfriend. The money will go toward Christmas presents and her toddler's next birthday.

The hurricane hit the northeast US in late October, flooding communities, destroying thousands of homes and leaving more than 130 people dead.

Secret Santa took up the holiday tradition from a close Kansas City friend, Larry Stewart, who for years handed out bills each December to unsuspecting strangers.

Mr Stewart died in 2007 after giving away more than $1m to strangers, mostly in $100 bills.

Advertisement