The Spirit Of The Season


The front page of the Roundup always has a Good Guy, and almost always a story about something good happening in the area. That's because a lot of good things happen here, especially during the Christmas season. And those kinds of good and charitable acts build on themselves, no matter where they happen. Proof of that is embodied by the "Secret Santa" of Kansas City. Here's his story:

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) -- Some of Jackson's needy got $100 from Santa on Monday. An anonymous Mississippi native, who now lives in Kansas City, was giving out the money to repay a decades-old debt.

The "Secret Santa" travels the nation, putting thousands of dollars into the hands of sometimes desperate and always downtrodden folks who end up at pawn shops, in parking lots of rickety laundromats or doorways of charity thrift shops.

Twenty-seven years ago, that could have been him. In 1971, he was homeless in Houston, Miss. "I was living in my car, and the company I worked for went out of business without telling me," he said. "I had no money, no place to go and no way to get there.

"One morning when I hadn't had anything to eat for a day and a half, I got really hungry and went to a small diner not far off the square in Houston. I ordered a huge breakfast with all the trimmings, knowing I had no way to pay for it, and I gave it the old 'I must have lost my wallet' trick.

"The guy who was both cook and waiter came out from behind the counter and reached down underneath where I was sitting. He brought up a $20 bill and said, 'You must have dropped this.' I thought, 'Thank you, Lord,' and my second thought was that I'd better get out of there before the person who dropped the money realized it."

He said he eventually realized no one had dropped the money. "That man knew I was in trouble, and he helped me in a way that allowed me to keep my dignity. At that point, I made the good Lord a promise."

The man made it big in cable television, and other business ventures after that. He's a local celebrity of sorts in the Kansas City area. He wears disguises -- sometimes a Santa suit -- when he makes his rounds as "Secret Santa" in the suburbs of Kansas City and other locales he chooses.

"Each year, I give away cash money of about $50,000," he said, keeping his promise of 1971. "I go to laundromats. I go to pawn shops," he said. "I go into thrift store parking lots and find people with the hoods of their cars up -- people in great need."

Now there is the spirit of Jesus at work.

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