I shared the story of the real Secret Santa back in 2001 in my book, The ABCs of Financial Freedom. It’s the story of a man named Larry Stewart. The week before Christmas in 1999, he handed out $85,000 to complete strangers on the streets of Kansas City and did it every year until he died in 2006, at the age of 58, due to esophageal cancer that had spread to his liver. There’s so much more to the amazing story of this man and his unbelievable generosity.
The good news is … generosity didn’t die with him. In fact, it seems to be spreading even more.
According to CNN, “A Secret Santa appeared in a Walmart in Derby, Vermont last month and paid for the purchases of almost everyone in the store, including the charges on layaway. An anonymous buyer paid for $57,000 in layaway items at a Uniondale, New York, store while another spent $44,000 in a Longmont, Colorado, store and a third shelled out $29,000 at a Walmart in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania.” 1
Twin NBA stars, Marcus and Markieff Morris who play for the Boston Celtics and Washington Wizards, respectively, surprised some Walmart layaway shoppers standing in line at a Northeast Philadelphia Walmart this past Monday, and paid the bill for all of them. Over $6,000.00.
Tim McGraw and Faith Hill played Santa on Tuesday, December 6 and paid off $5,000 on layaway items for customers in Macclenny, Florida. A couple from Long Beach, California, paid for approximately $30,000 in layaway merchandise at a Walmart in Whitehaven, Tennessee. They were inspired by the Secret Santa who paid off $46,000 for layaway items at a Walmart in Pennsylvania.
The owner of Jimmy Johns did the same thing in Illinois, paying off layaway items for Walmart shoppers to the tune of more then $81,000, helping 300 different families.
“Generosity is contagious! But it didn’t start with Secret Santa.”
Tyler Perry was inspired to be a Secret Santa after watching a segment on GOOD MORNING AMERICA about Walmart Secret Santas who were paying off single layaway accounts for complete strangers. He paid off $430,000, helping 1500 different families.
Inspired by Tyler Perry, Kid Rock paid off every layaway account at his local Walmart in Nashville for $81,000, helping 350 families. And it’s still happening all over the country.
Turns out generosity is contagious! But it didn’t start with Secret Santa. It began with God and that’s the real reason we celebrate at Christmas. The Bible says, “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons” (Galatians 4:4-5).
The greatest act of generosity of all time happened over 2,000 years ago. It’s why the angel told the shepherds, “I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people” (Luke 2:10).
What was the GOOD NEWS?
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
This Christmas, BE GENEROUS … with your family, your friends, your church ... even total strangers.
... and share the secret.
© 2018. Barry L. Cameron
1 Holcombe, Madeline. “Kid Rock Pays off Layaways for 350 Families at Nashville Walmart.” CNN, Cable News Network, 9 Dec. 2018, www.cnn.com/2018/12/09/us/kid-rock-layaway-paid-off-trnd/index.html.
Barry Cameron is a devoted father and husband, bestselling author, dynamic communicator, and Senior Pastor of Crossroads Christian Church. Crossroads has a gorgeous, 150-acre campus in Grand Prairie, Texas. More than 8000 people call Crossroads their church home. Barry’s latest book, The Road to Financial Freedom, came out in the fall of 2020 and is available on Amazon. It’s another game changer for individuals and families who want to fix their finances once and for all.
Barry and his wife, Janis, have three children: Katie, Matt and Kelli. A daughter-in-law, Lindley and a son-in law, Johnny. They also have two grandsons, Will and Levi. Their family has been completely debt free since November 15, 2001.
Crossroads Christian Church has been debt free since November 9, 2008.