Real-life Santa brings special surprise across America

ALBANY, Ga. -- Every year, about this time of year, the man in the red coat walks into shelters, food pantries, thrift stores and storerooms.

He generates excitement as only a man in a red coat can.

"I've heard about him. Never thought I'd ever see him," said one emotional woman.  

There is little known about this anonymous Secret Santa.

He is a wealthy businessman from Kansas City who goes around to different towns across America -- in this case Albany, Ga. -- and gives away more than $100,000 worth of $100 bills.

Yes, real ones.

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 "These are brand new $100 bills. And this is to make your Christmas just a little bit brighter," said Secret Santa to some surprised shoppers.

He says it never gets old, and looks forward to it every Christmas.

First thing one mother and daughter did with their money was buy some Cottonelle tissue for their tears of joy.  

Apparently, receiving a random act of kindness can be pretty overwhelming. It's a lot of money for a lot of these folks. 

Kids at the local Boys and Girls Club could barely contain their happiness when Secret Santa gave them each $10.

Residents' reactions could not match getting any toy or even fruitcake this holiday season.

It's amazing, really. Give a random stranger a $100 bill and they start hugging random strangers. 

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 Still, not all this excitement is because of the money.

"No, it's not the money. It's not the money," said Lilly Thomas after receiving Secret Santa's gift. 

Thomas says around the ,a lot of gifts are given out of obligation, so when a total stranger comes up and hands you $100 just to be nice, it makes you believe again.

"He's real. Santa is real," said one joyful worker.

"My hope is that by doing this, millions of people see it and millions of people act on it. You don't have to have any money. It can be a kind word, a good deed -- anybody can be a Secret Santa," said the main in the red coat.

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  • Steve Hartman

    Steve Hartman has been a CBS News correspondent since 1998, having served as a part-time correspondent for the previous two years.

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