Secret Santa proves kindness is the best gift

PITTSBURGH -- 'Twas a few weeks before Christmas, when there arose such a clatter, the people of Pittsburgh must have thought something the matter - but far from it.

Once again this year, the man known only as Secret Santa is out doing random acts of kindness across America.

Every year, with the help of his elves in local law enforcement, this anonymous, wealthy businessman gives away about a $100,000 worth of $100 bills to total strangers, asking for nothing in return except to spread the kindness.

Temika Green is program coordinator at the local YMCA. She said she wanted to use some of her money to help the kids in her after-school program.

"And I promise, as soon as I get out of here I'm going to call my job," Green told Secret Santa.

"Yea, well put another couple hundred in there. And I've got to quit talking to you I'm running out of money. We love you. You're doing great. Don't stop," he told her.

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Secret Santa gives a woman a $100 bill

CBS News

Secret Santa has been doing this for about a decade, but says he feels more needed now than ever. "This year the timing is perfect for everybody to come together -- one random act of kindness at a time."

A Christian? Who knows? A Muslim? Who cares? All he looks for is people who seem like they could use a little caring in their life. In other words ... anyone.

"Kindness is the bridge between all people. Kindness is the one thing that cuts through everything regardless of your station in life," explained Secret Santa.

And really, that's what he's handing out here. It's not the money. Money doesn't make people break down and cry. These are the faces of people overwhelmed by something truly priceless.

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A woman thanks Secret Santa

CBS News

And lest you doubt that, consider one specific encounter.

"Now this is for you. It's a hundred dollars from Secret Santa," Secret Santa told a woman named Mildred Morris.

"I just came from chemo," she replied. "And I work every day, sir."

Mildred has stage 4 breast cancer. She said a million dollars couldn't have turned her day around. And yet there she was, overjoyed.

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Secret Santa with Mildred Morris

CBS News

"It's just amazing that there's so much compassion out here with all this other ugly stuff that's going on," she said.

Every year people say they'd like to do this, but they just don't have the money. Now we know the only currency you need is kindness.

  • Steve Hartman

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