An anonymous businessman has started the holiday season early by giving out $100 bills to random locals in Reading, Pennsylvania.
The man, who identified himself only as “Secret Santa” had read about the Pennsylvania city having the highest rate of poverty in the nation in a local paper. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, over 65,000 people out of Reading’s approximate 90,000 residents are living in poverty.
"Cities like Reading are experiencing tough economic times," the Secret Santa told local newspaper The Reading Eagle. "It's time for us to step up, not step back."
The Secret Santa reportedly dished out $20,000 in cash while being escorted by police. The bills were all stamped with the words “Secret Santa” in red. The Eagle also produced a video showing the Secret Santa giving out the $100 gifts to astonished locals, one of whom was a tearful man at a bus station who said he had just been praying for some help to find him.
The Santa businessman also stopped by the Salvation Army and handed out $100 bills to children, volunteers, and other workers.
Outside the Salvation Army, the Secret Santa came across a woman at a bus stop on her way to pick up her children from after-school. After telling the Secret Santa that she had six children, she was given $600; $100 for each child.
"It's nice to have some money to buy Christmas presents for the children," the delighted woman says in the video.
The video does not reveal the identity of the Secret Santa businessman. The man is only shown from behind wearing an urban Santa uniform complete with a long-sleeved red top, jeans and a red cap displaying the word “Elf” on the back. Onlookers can be heard off camera exclaiming, “Oh my God, who is he?”
The generous Santa explained his actions: “I get more out of it than they do,” he said. “I’ve had people say, you know, ‘You saved my life. I was going to commit suicide.’ I’ve had people say, ‘I couldn’t pay my heat. … I hadn’t eaten in days’."
Reading’s Secret Santa insisted on anonymity and identified himself as a businessman who does a lot of traveling.