Secret Santa Lives On

bookcovermed_134210442_stdSecret Santas in 3 states spread cheer, $100 bills

ST. LOUIS – At a suburban Goodwill store on Friday, Theresa Settles selected a large, black comforter to warm her family until she can raise the money to turn the gas heat back on. A petite woman approached, her face obscured by dark sunglasses and a wrapped winter scarf, and handed Settles two $100 bills stamped with the words “secret Santa.” “The only condition,” she said, “is that you do something nice for someone. Pass it on.”

“I will,” Settles said, the only words she could get out of her mouth.

The secret Santa was a protege of Kansas City’s undercover gift giver, Larry Stewart, who died of cancer nearly two years ago. Stewart roamed city streets each December doling out $100 bills to anyone who looked like they might need a lift.

Before his death in January 2007, Stewart told a friend how much he would miss his 26 years of anonymous streetside giving, during which he gave away about $1.3 million. Stewart, from the city suburb of Lee’s Summit, made millions in cable television and long-distance telephone service.

The friend promised Stewart he would be a secret Santa the next year. “He squeezed my hand and that was it,” said the Kansas City Santa, who would say only that he was an area businessman and investor. “I honored a promise.”

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A few years ago, I had the honor of working on a couple of web sites for Larry Stewart. He was as kind and generous with his words as he was with his money.

I try to tell his Secret Santa story somewhere on the web every Christmas season so that his legacy will live as long as good people hear his story and carry on the tradition.

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One Comment on “Secret Santa Lives On”

  1. Dave Says:

    Great story – we have a TV series Secret Millionaire in the UK. A millionaire goes to live undercover in a deprived area – they volunteer and decide who they can help at the end of the show

    Many form lasting relationships with the people & volunteer organisatgions they help

    As for me I can’t afford $100 bills – but it is a shame we didn’t select a family to help on FPW this year.

    Instead I’m providing toys for kids on risk registers / living in hostels in the UK this year

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