East Idaho has a Secret Santa who has been giving away large sums of money for the last five years. Nate Eaton, news director of East Idaho News says the anonymous man approached East Idaho News and asked for their help.
“I was approached by a local person, a local man, who said ‘I want to be a secret Santa for people in the community. Can you help me out?’ That’s what started this whole incredible, every December month of giving that we have done,” Eaton said.
Eaton has been helping Secret Santa for the last five years. The first year, Secret Santa gave away $100,000 to locals in need. There were so many nominations, the East Idaho News email system crashed.
The next year, the Secret Santa gave out $150,000 and the news outlet was better prepared with a nomination system on its website. In 2019, the Secret Santa donated $500,000, and this year, even more.
“We are not announcing an amount, but I can tell you that it is a lot more than $500,000,” Eaton said.
Once someone is nominated, East Idaho News does a vetting process to determine if the person is truly in need. They call references and make sure Secret Santa is not getting scammed.
“If everything seems good and we are able to confirm the story, that’s when Secret Santa decides what they people get, and we go and deliver it,” Eaton said.
East Idaho News films some of the deliveries of the gifts to record reactions and capture the special moment. A few of the videos are posted online on eastidahonews.com. These inspiring videos have caused many to ask if they can donate to the Secret Santa fund.
Secret Santa and East Idaho News are not accepting donations. Instead, Secret Santa asks that people use that donation to be a Secret Santa themselves and help a friend. Eaton said the gift does not need to be big.
“It doesn’t have to be $500,000. It can be a $5 gift or a $1 candy bar that you leave on somebody’s doorstep with a nice note. I mean… anybody can be a Secret Santa, and everybody can be a Secret Santa,” he said.
More information about the Secret Santa program and to watch the videos or nominate a friend in need is available online at eastidahonews.com.