A little boy learns the joys of giving
A special Secret Santa has become an American folk hero in the past few years. A recent feature about him on CBS went viral with more than 40 million shares on social media. Who is he? A very generous (anonymous) businessman, who, every year during the holiday season, visits depressed neighborhoods in different US cities and gives away $100 bills to people who need hope in their life, people who need to know that someone cares.
This year he came to Albany NY. In addition to going on what he calls “Santa’s sled” on city streets and surprising people with his gifts, he visited the Robert C Parker School in Wynantskill. The students knew that a special guest was coming and were excited as they waited in the auditorium.
After a video presentation of his work, Secret Santa talked to the students about the beauty of practicing random kindness, of paying it forward. He told them how giving feels better than receiving and inspired them to think about random acts of kindness they’d like to perform. At the end of the gathering, he gave each child a $20 bill and suggested that they show an act of kindness to someone in the next few weeks.
The kids were jumping for joy in the hallways as they returned to their classrooms, talking about what they’d like to do with the generous gift they had just received. Some of them talked about buying gifts for all their classmates; others about getting special gifts for their parents and siblings; some said they would donate it to charity. They were empowered to think of giving rather than focusing on the gifts they were hoping to receive for the holidays.
Sam, a second grader at Parker, had heard about Mayan Hands from his parents who have a deep, long-standing connection with Guatemala. His parents had explained that by providing opportunities for hardworking women to sell their handwoven goods, Mayan Hands enabled them to raise their families out of poverty and send their children to school. Sam came with his $20 bill in hand, but before handing it to us he wanted to know how it would be used. He said he wanted it to provide more work for the women as well as to buy school supplies for their children. He asked how the money would arrive in Guatemala and how it would be changed into the local currency.
We are grateful to Sam who, instead of buying something for himself, was inspired by Secret Santa’s message of caring and chose Mayan Hands as the beneficiary. We will make sure that our artisan partners in Guatemala know that among the many donors who support their work and the scholarships for their children, there is a little boy rooting for them.