Mary Sauter doesn’t make much money. But whatever funds the retired schoolteacher scrapes together, she spends on enough gifts for kids in need to fill a 7,000-square-foot warehouse.

For her annual holiday mission, Sauter has been dubbed “Angel from Albia." Since she started discreetly doling out presents 20 years ago, she's spent an estimated half-million dollars on gifts for children whose family don’t have much, the Des Moines Register reports.

"Some people golf or fish," Joe Nelson, principal at Mitchellville Elementary, told the paper. "Mary shops for kids."

According to the Today Show, Sauter first was inspired to take on the role “Secret Santa” when she learned of a mother of three young children who had lost her husband in an automobile accident just before Christmas. Sauter left garbage bags full of presents for the family and soon after decided to keep growing her mission.

Nowadays the former special-education teacher, who never married or had children, commissions the help of students and local parents to help her get organized. She starts shopping for the next year's Christmas on Dec. 26 and does her best to fulfill each kid’s wish.

“They’re working. They’re working very, very hard,” Sauter told Today of the parents she hopes to help. “But they’re barely making ends meet because they’re making just above minimum wage.”

To fund her benevolent hobby, Sauter dips into her own savings and the money she makes from tutoring and working at a concession stand, according to Today.

Since she’s working with limited funds, Sauter has become something of an expert bargain hunter. Last year, she bought $153,200 worth of gifts for 789 children in seven Iowa communities but spent only $32,830, according to the Des Moines Register.

"This is a feeling that lasts forever," she told the news outlet.

Also on HuffPost:

Loading Slideshow...
  • Anonymous Donor Gives $25K In Toys

    Hope was renewed after an alleged thief stole the money from Chicago's Toys For Tots Foundation. To help replenish the supply and ensure Christmas joy for the thousands of area children the organization reaches, <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/chi-embezzlement-may-mean-fewer-toys-for-tots-20111220,0,7505109.story" target="_hplink">a generous donor gave $25,000, the <em>Chicago Tribune </em>reports.</a> His only request? To remain anonymous.

  • Anonymous Donor Leaves $10K On Doorstep

    Money was inevitably tight for Maria Vargas, who spent her life's savings on monthly treatment as she battles Stage Four cancer. But that changed when Vargas received an anonymous check for <a href="http://www.ktvu.com/news/news/struggling-cancer-patient-receives-10000-check-bag/nFz4w/" target="_hplink">$10,000, left in a sack of avocados on her doorstep, KTVU reports.</a> The family had been protesting outside of a Kaiser facility, claiming misdiagnosis allowed a tumor to grow out of control.

  • Anonymous Donor Gives Kids 1,300 Bikes

    If you ask a child his ideal Christmas present, you're likely to get a resounding answer: a bike. One donor in Oregon has been making that a reality for the past decade. In 10 years, he's given out almost 1,300 bikes <a href="http://kdrv.com/news/local/234007" target="_hplink">KDRV reports</a>. He's remained anonymous and is simply referred to as "Bike Santa."

  • Anonymous Donors Pay Off Layaway Bills

    Anonymous donations have caught on at stores across the country. Kindhearted Secret Santas are paying off remaining Kmart layaway balances for families nationwide, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/16/kmart-secret-santas-pay-strangers-layaway_n_1153210.html" target="_hplink">the <em>Associated Press</em> reported</a>. These Santas have started spreading the love to other stores as well, hitting up Wal-Marts in Joplin, Mo., according to the AP.

  • Anonymous Donor Gives Shelter

    Sometimes gifts for children don't come in the form of a firetruck or a new doll. An anonymous donor paid for an extended motel stay for Kim Artis and her 10-year-old daughter and 18-year-old disabled son as holiday budgets threatened to put them on the streets, <a href="a href="http://www.sj-r.com/top-stories/x2105827220/Anonymous-donor-helps-woman-children-avoid-homelessness" target="_hplink"" target="_hplink">the <em>State Journal-Register </em>reported. </a>