He wasn’t wearing a red suit, but he was Santa just the same. At least that is the sentiment of several Salvation Army shoppers who were approached by a stranger Monday, Dec. 22.
“I was shopping and a gentleman came up to me and handed me an envelope,” said Mildred Allen of Richmond. “He said, ‘Merry Christmas,’ and I said, ‘Merry Christmas,’ and then he was gone.”
After the initial shock, Mildred opened the envelope expecting to see a card and was surprised to see a $20 bill. As she looked around for the stranger, she saw a friend, Cheryl Woods, who had seen her envelope and walked up to show Mildred she had received one too. The two women had been shopping in different areas of the store.
“I was at the back of the store,” said Cheryl. “He came and tapped me on the shoulder and handed me an envelope and said, ‘Merry Christmas and God Bless.”
When she opened the envelope and saw the money, it really touched her.
“Did you see what he did?” she asked Mildred. Both ladies began to look around, noticing there were quite a few people in the store.
“It happened so fast, but then I was crying. I was down to $8 to my name to last until the end of the week. I needed a pair of jeans for Christmas. All I could do was cry. A lady at the cash register brought us some tissues,” Cheryl said
Mildred smiled. “I started crying and she started crying.” The ladies then looked around again for the generous stranger and were happy to find him. “We gave him a big hug when we saw him,” said Woods.
“There are so many people that call (The Daily News) telling them something bad. We thought nobody else would call (The Daily News), so we did,” Mildred continued. “I didn’t know him. There were quite a few people in there, too. I know more people got envelopes, too. We’ve seen the Secret Santa on television, but no one’s ever done that before here.”
Woods echoed the same thoughts. “You hear about it on the news, but don’t think about it happening in Richmond. It makes you feel good that there are such people in the world. I’m just in awe.”
Obviously thrilled by the stranger’s giving nature, Mildred was also touched to be a recipient. “This will be a big help for me. I’m saving mine. Thank you, Lord.”
And both women thank the anonymous stranger for his generous gift. They said, “God bless him, too.”
Photo: On Monday, a stranger approached two women, at different times, at Salvation Army. He handed each an envelope and was gone before they could react. Mildred Allen and Cheryl Woods were delighted to open their envelopes and find a $20 bill. (Photo by Brenda Jensen/The Daily News)