Secret Santa hands out $100 bills

ST. LOUIS (AP) — A woman has been passing out $100 bills in the St. Louis area, continuing a Secret Santa tradition that began years ago on the other side of the state.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch (http://bit.ly/uzlosU ) reported that the woman searched the sidewalks for needy people Monday and passed out thousands in crisp $100 bills as part of her fourth annual “sleigh ride.” Riding in a white van, she was escorted by St. Louis County police officers and Pattonville firefighters.

Among the recipients was 90-year-old Dorothy Davis. The Secret Santa, a small woman in a red beret, spotted Davis standing alone at a bus stop. She hopped out of van and handed Davis $200.

“Is it real?” she asked.

“It is,” Secret Santa replied. “I swear.” The two embraced.

Davis was on her way to mail Christmas cards and to buy a few more. She wasn’t sure what she would do with the money, except “turn some of it in to my church.”

The Secret Santa tradition began more than a quarter of a century ago in Kansas City, Mo., where over the years, Larry Stewart gave out $1.3 million of his own money. Before he died in 2007, he recruited a replacement, and the tradition has spread to at least 25 cities.

Stewart remained anonymous until his death, and like him, St. Louis’ Secret Santa won’t reveal her identity.

“I think people get too hung up on who’s giving it, why did they give it, how did they make their money, instead of who received it and how it changed their life,” she said. “It’s truly not about me.”

She visited a home in Spanish Lake, where 85-year-old Mary Felts opened the door. Standing in Felts’ kitchen, Secret Santa handed her $200.

“I want you to get whatever you need,” she told Felts. “I want to you treat yourself to a couple of steaks or something wonderful. I want you to do whatever it is you need to do today.”

“You are kidding me,” Felts said.

Felts said she would likely use the money to clear up a “tax problem.”

Secret Santa handed her $200 more.

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Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, http://www.stltoday.com

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