San Carlos Apache Tribal Lands — A Secret Santa is about to do some of his best work yet in southeastern Arizona.
After a blessing from the medicine man and a briefing for his elf recruits, this Secret Santa, an anonymous businessman, set out to give away $30,000 in $100 bills to random strangers on the San Carlos Apache Tribal Lands.
"I've always felt, inside my soul, a spiritual connection with the Native American," he said.
Nearly half of the more than 10,000 people on the Arizona tribal land live below the poverty line.
"It's going to put more food on the table — more for my family to eat," said a woman who goes by Grandma Rose.
Elijah Cooke was grateful for the gift but planned to give it away to someone who needed it more. "I had no food, really," Cooke said. "I think it goes to my father, he needs it more."
After receiving her gift, Velma Wilson said she could finally buy her grandchildren what they've been begging for — cat litter.
And yet, even here, where the need is so great, Secret Santa says it's not about the money. It's never about the money.
"Whether you're Native American, African American, Christian American, left American, right American — kindness is that common language between us all," he said.
Maybe that's why most people didn't cry when they got the bills but did when he made them feel like a million bucks.
"Do you know how special you are?" he told one woman. "You're a beautiful spirit," he told another person.
"You're an example to every mom. You're amazing," he told Nelvena Cobb, who got $400 but valued those comments much more.
"Just to hear that feels good," Cobb said. "It helped me a lot."
This holiday season, few of us will have the resources to give back like this, but Secret Santa says we can all make an equal impact by using our wealth of words.
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