Live By Faith (37 of 40) by Stephen Whitney
This content is part of a series.Live By Faith (37 of 40)
For 26 years, from 1979 to 2005, a Secret Santa roamed the streets
of Kansas City, Missouri every December quietly giving people money. He started with $5 and $10 bills. As his fortune grew, so did his gifts. In the last few years, Secret Santa was handing out $100 bills, sometimes two or three at a time, to people in thrift stores, diners and parking lots.
During those 26 years he has anonymously given out about $1.3 million. It has been a long-held holiday mystery: Who is the Secret Santa? But in 2006, now weak from chemotherapy and armed with a desire to pass on his belief in random kindness,
the Secret Santa decided it was time to reveal his identity.
He was Larry Stewart, a 58-year-old businessman who made his millions in cable television and long-distance telephone service.
His holiday giving started in December 1979 when he was nursing his wounds at a drive-in restaurant after getting fired. It was the second year in a row he had been fired the week before Christmas.
He said, "It was cold and this car hop didn't have on a very big jacket, and I thought to myself, 'I think I got it bad. She's out there in this cold making nickels and dimes." He gave her $20
and told her to keep the change. "And suddenly I saw her lips begin to tremble and tears begin to flow down her cheeks. She said, "Sir, you have no idea what this means to me."
Stewart went to the bank that day and took out $200, then drove around looking for people who could use a lift. That was his Christmas present to himself. Then for the next 26 years each December has given gifts of cash to people in need because it is something they don't have to beg for or get in line for.
Doctors told Steward in April that he had cancer of the esophagus and it has spread to his liver. The aggressive chemotherapy has stripped away his appetite and energy. He lost about 100 pounds.
His mi ...
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