First and foremost: If you're planning to send holiday cards to Holiday Mail for Heroes, your submissions must be postmarked by tomorrow, December 9th. Details are found here. Thank you to everyone who has helped to spread the word about this program, and about why you can't send the cards straight to Walter Reed Hospital. I'll run this same information next fall too.
Recently I learned about an organization (though I use the term loosely) that tickled every funnybone I have as well as making me feel good. Who wouldn't love to be a member of the Society of Secret Santas? I'd love to be able to say that I belong to that - not that you're supposed to tell people if you do.
Have you ever, especially at the holidays, done something generous for a person or organization in need? I'm sure you have. But have you ever done it anonymously, refusing to identify yourself even when asked?
Congratulations. You're a Secret Santa.
The original Secret Santa, at least as far as the Society is concerned, was Larry Stewart. For twenty years he gave, selflessly and anonymously, until three months before his death when his identity was finally made known. The Society today tries to build upon the legacy of Larry, and mobilize Secret Santas everywhere to make their communities a better place.
Anyone can be a Secret Santa, whether you celebrate Christmas or not. You just have to abide by certain rules while you're out doing your...do-gooding. You must remain anonymous (that's the whole point, you're Santa Claus!), you must have a sense of humor, you must be humble and compassionate and kind. Really, it's not hard. You're limited only by your own financial and physical resources and energy.
How do you find the people and groups who need a Secret Santa? There are all sorts of ways! You could subscribe to Debbie Tenzer's mailing list at Do One Nice Thing. My local paper runs a Be An Angel campaign every year to support local non-profits; I bet your local media outlets do something similar. You can usually find ways to outreach through your house of worship, school, or community programs.
Oh, and you can follow this blog, because you might have noticed I post stuff like that here. ;)
To conclude, a small follow-up to my last post, in which I told you about a young man named Nate in need of funds to pay for his cancer surgery: There have been a few new donations since my post, but Nate still needs more than $50,000 to be able to afford the surgery that will save his life. If you're looking for a place to start your Secret Santa work, this would probably be perfect.