In Altoona, Iowa, Christmas came early for one local family.
Ruby Modlin was at a local Walmart with her family shopping for some holiday groceries when an anonymous man picked up their $211 bill, KCCI 8 Des Moines reports. Modlin had noticed the man following them around the store, but wasn't sure of his intentions until he stepped in to swipe his card at the checkout. The "secret Santa" handed her the receipt and wished her a Merry Christmas before leaving with his own family.
The holiday gift was particularly special for Modlin, who has been in and out of the hospital in recent months due to liver failure, according to KCCI 8.
When it comes to charitable giving, nothing trumps the holiday season. At a Walmart store in Hastings, Mich. last week, an anonymous donor wrote a $10,000 check to pay off 43 customers' layaway accounts. One woman fainted when she was told her bill was paid for.
In Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., another "secret Santa" similarly requested to donate $10,000 to pay for strangers' layaway accounts at Toys R Us.
Here's a roundup of some of our favorite holiday gift-giving stories:
The second most deadly shooting in America, which claimed the lives of 20 children and six adults, has rocked the nation, but hasn’t touched its resolve. Since the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting on Dec. 14, millions of dollars and thousands of gifts have poured in, according to the Associated Press. And on Saturday, every kid in town was invited to Edmond Town Hall to choose a toy. "It's their way of grieving," Bobbi Veach, one of the organizers, told the AP."They say, `I feel so bad, I just want to do something to reach out.' That's why we accommodate everybody we can."
It wasn’t enough for a wealthy Missouri businessman to write a check. The “Secret Santa,” who did not reveal his name to the press, trekked up to New Jersey and New York to personally dole out $100 bills to Hurricane Sandy victims who are just starting to put their lives back together, the AP reports. Altogether, he’s giving away $100,000 this holiday season. "It's about the random acts of kindness," the benefactor told the AP. "I'm just setting an example, and if 10 percent of the people who see me emulate what I'm doing, anybody can be a Secret Santa!"
It’s become the uplifting image of the season. When Officer Larry DePrimo saw Jeffrey Hillman shivering on the streets of New York City without a pair of shoes, he spent $75 of his own money to buy the panhandler a pair of boots. After an inspiring passerby snapped a photo of the act of kindness, the photo immediately went viral. “You could see the blisters [on his feet] from 15 feet away,” DePrimo told CNN of the man who was shivering on that November night. “I knew I had to help him.”
When Alan Dent stumbled upon a purse filled with credit cards and cash, the homeless man knew exactly what to do. The British man brought it to Barclays bank so it could be reunited with its customer. Once a local charity caught wind of Dent’s act of kindness, it offered to find him a home, which he may get in time for Christmas, the Manchester Evening News reports.
Curtis Butler, III is by no means rich, but the formerly homeless vet used whatever funds he could to help those less fortunate than he, 11 Alive reports. When the Butler saw that a number of customers couldn’t pay their power bills at Georgia Power earlier this month, he decided to cover the expense for 20 customers. Altogether, he forked over $2,000. "It was an angel sent from heaven,” Quiana Cherry, one of the lucky customers, told 11 Alive, “like I hit the lottery.”
Across the country, benevolent customers are making sure that shoppers can shop for their loved ones, without having to stress about how they will afford it after. On Tuesday, for example, a Walmart store in Hastings, Mich., received a $10,000 check from an anonymous donor to pay off 43 customers' layaway accounts, 24 Hour News 8 reported. In a similarly inspiring situation, a donor called a Toys R Us in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., to donate $10,000 for the layaway items of strangers, according ABC 25 WPBF.
The Greeks have taught the world a lesson in how to feed the poor in a dignified way. Marinopoulos SA, the leading food retailer in Greece and Cyprus, has started a nonprofit that gives struggling shoppers approximately $320 a month to purchase what they need to survive. These social groceries protect the identities of their beneficiares and look just like any other supermarket (except for the fact that they don’t sell alcohol).