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For 5 Years Secret Santa Has Spread Holiday Cheer In Idaho

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

For the past five years, a mysterious Secret Santa has been spreading holiday cheer in Idaho.

NATE EATON: It's amazing to watch somebody's life change in seconds, where you show up, they open a box and that thing they never thought would happen just happened from an anonymous giver who doesn't want to be known.

NOEL KING, HOST:

That's Nate Eaton. And he is Secret Santa's little helper, so to speak. He's also a journalist who helped launch eastidahonews.com. In 2015, he got a random phone call.

EATON: From a local person who said, I have $100,000 that I want to give away. But I want to be sure that the money goes to people who truly need it, people that would never ask for a handout, people that, you know, are working hard. They've just run out of money and they've run out of luck.

GREENE: Eaton says he's gotten a flood of nominations every year since then. This year, Diana Boldman was one. She and her husband are both 65. They wake up every morning to deliver newspapers in an old van.

DIANA BOLDMAN: Right now, we are driving a 2003 Dodge Caravan, which I very much enjoy. But it's old. And it's got 240,000 miles on it.

KING: After delivering the papers, Diana goes to her full-time job at McDonald's. She wants to retire soon, but her husband is on disability. So she's the provider. Now, Nate Eaton, who's well known in the community, recently showed up at the McDonald's where she works.

BOLDMAN: As soon as I saw Nate Eaton, I knew something was up.

GREENE: And she was right. Eaton presented her with a 2019 Hyundai Tucson.

BOLDMAN: I was really just a little bit flabbergasted. Whoever the person is, well, everybody would like them to know that they are very much appreciated.

GREENE: That's Diana Boldman, thankful for a gift from a Secret Santa who still remains anonymous.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MERRY CHRISTMAS BABY")

OTIS REDDING: (Singing) Merry Christmas, baby. You sure did treat me nice. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.