In the mid-80’s, stories of Santa sightings started to emerge from Kansas City. Except, instead of delivering presents on Christmas Eve night via sled and chimney, he appeared in person, handing out cash to those in need. In the early days, Santa would generously hand out $10 bills, but as the years passed, tens turned to twenties, and eventually twenties grew to hundreds. Some stories reported he was handing out ten thousand, twenty thousand, or thirty thousand dollars in a single day.
As the years passed, the number of stories began to grow, but there was one strange detail: No one knew who he was. He diligently kept his actual identity a secret. People simply called him “Secret Santa.”
With each passing year, Secret Santa became more and more famous. His story was covered by USA, Today, NewsWeek, FoxNews, and many other media outlets. He even appeared in costume on Oprah, but he kept his identity a secret.
Some years, he would even appear in different cities. One year, he appeared in Phoenix, and another in Las Vegas. After Hurricanes pelted Florida, he decided to visit the streets hit the worst. Likewise, in the days following 9/11, Secret Santa was spotted walking around the streets of New York City passing out tens of thousands of dollars.
A SECRET REVEALED
So, he went to a local paper who had respectfully covered his efforts for years, and shared his story with them.
His name was Larry Stewart. He was a local millionaire who made his money through cable television and long-distance calling, but his identity is just the beginning of the story. His journey to become Secret Santa is truly incredible.
LARRY STEWART | EARLY BEGINNINGS
After college, in 1971, he got a job as a traveling salesman. Eventually, his company went out of business, but they neglected to inform him. He kept waiting for his checks to arrive in the mail. When they never came, eventually he found himself living on the street.
With no money to his name, and nowhere to go, he found himself living out of his car. As days went by, food became more and more scarce, and he became increasingly desperate. After 8 days of barely eating, he swallowed his pride and entered a church asking for charity. Unfortunately, the person over benevolence wasn’t in that day, and they told him he would have to return the next day.
AN ACT OF KINDNESS
With the money he had left over, he was able to travel to the next city where he could restart his life.
DISCOVERING THE GIFT OF GIVING
“Keep the change,” he said with a smile as he handed her the money.
Her eyes quickly welled up with tears, and she looked him right in the eyes and said, “You have no idea what this means to me.”
In that moment, in clicked in his head, “Yes I do know what this means to you.” In that moment, he remembered the generosity shown to him, and the promise to help others that he had made.
As the years passed, his wealth grew, and he was able to give away far larger amounts. He still gave to traditional charities, but he always wanted to also give directly to people with no conditions and no strings attached. Eventually he even started training up a second generation of Secret Santas to continue his legacy.
They estimate that he gave away $1.3 million just as Secret Santa, but no one really knows.
Hear him tell his own story HERE!
HOW CAN YOU GIVE A RANDOM ACT OF KINDNESS?