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."

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