Why a Pennsylvania school got a visit from a 'Secret Santa'

More than 40 students had their outstanding meal balances paid in a random act of kindness by a mysterious stranger. 

Dan Gleiter/PennLive.com/AP
Pennsylvania officials speak at the tree lighting ceremony in the state capitol in Harrisburg, Pa., on Friday.

A mysterious "Secret Santa" visited a Pennsylvania elementary school this week. The man never gave his name, but before he left, he paid the bills of more than 40 students.

Nearly half of the students at H.W. Good Elementary School in Pennsylvania qualify for reduced price lunches. With the weather gets colder, bringing rising heating and clothing costs, this random act of kindness meant a lot to struggling families, said school principal Amy Larcinese.

"We were stunned and so thankful," she told ABC News. "We have a lot of families in really hard times right now, and he is making such a difference in their lives."

The anonymous donor visited the school on Wednesday, and before he left, he wrote a check for $864, clearing the school lunch balances for 44 students, and said he will cover one student’s lunch bill for the rest of the month. The school is currently in the process of informing the families that will benefit from the man’s generosity.

H.W. Good officials will not, however, reveal the name of the man who helped these families out. "We're calling him our 'Secret Santa,'" said Ms. Larcinese.

"This time of year can be a financial burden," district superintendent Janet Sardon told CNN. "His intent was to relieve that burden a little bit."

Pennsylvania appears to be a hot spot for random acts of kindness this time of year. On Friday, a Wal-Mart store in Everett, Penn., announced that another Santa had paid off more than $46,000 in layaway items.

Walmart store manager Ryan Kennedy picked up the phone on Wednesday and received the once-in-a-lifetime call from “Santa B,” who offered to pay off the remaining tab on the store’s on-hold layaway accounts.

Many people use layaway to pay for Christmas presents – and for the 194 people with layaway accounts, Christmas came early this year.

"Some individuals were just brought to tears when they were notified about it," said Mr. Kennedy, according to CNN.

Earlier this year, a lunch worker at another Pennsylvania school spoke out against a school district policy that forced lunchroom workers to deny hot meals to students with outstanding meal balances of $25 or more.

Lunch worker Ms. Koltiska took exception to this policy in September, after she was ordered not to serve a hot lunch to a little boy whose balance was in the red.

"God is love, and we should love one another and be kind," Ms. Koltiska told The Washington Post. "There’s enough wealth in this world that no child should go hungry, especially in school. To me this is just wrong."

In February 2015, The Christian Science Monitor reported that wintry weather had brought out the best in people across the nation, who helped out neighbors stranded by the cold and snow.

After parents in the Pittsburgh suburb heard about the visit from a generous stranger, "a few families contacted us, saying how they were so appreciative of the help especially given the holidays," said Larcinese. "Sometimes, all we see are the sad things going on in the world, so it's really, really nice to know there are great people out there would give up their things to help others."

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
Real news can be honest, hopeful, credible, constructive.
What is the Monitor difference? Tackling the tough headlines – with humanity. Listening to sources – with respect. Seeing the story that others are missing by reporting what so often gets overlooked: the values that connect us. That’s Monitor reporting – news that changes how you see the world.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

QR Code to Why a Pennsylvania school got a visit from a 'Secret Santa'
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today