Santa Comes Early To Storm-Affected Northeast

Santa came early for victims of Superstorm Sandy, when a Missouri man dressed as the jolly old elf visited New Jersey and New York Thursday, handing out $100 bills in what he called random acts of kindness. The man distributed a total of $100,000 to residents who lost their physical possessions in last month’s storm, walking up to surprised residents in Elizabeth, N.J. and Staten Island, N.Y., thrusting the $100 bills in their hands, as police officers—some wearing red caps marked “elf” looked on.

The money is not the point at all,” the wealthy Kansas City businessman told the New York Daily News. “I’m just setting an example, and if 10 percent of the people who see me emulate what I’m doing, anybody can be a Secret Santa!

Some astonished residents, such as 72-year-old retiree Carol Hefty—who “Santa” found collecting free food at a disaster center—wept with joy upon receiving the selfless gift.

This is the start of our holiday cheer,” Staten Island resident Janice Kennedy, who lost everything in the storm, told the Associated Press. “We can go Christmas shopping now. He’s a great man.

Although the Secret Santa declined to be identified, he said he is continuing a tradition started by his friend Larry Stewart, who passed out more than $1 million in a similar fashion during his lifetime. Stewart passed away in 2007, and the new Santa is simply carrying on the tradition. He plans to visit other cities across the US up until Christmas.