Idaho Has a Secret Santa Who Gives Away $500,000 Every Year

Every year, a Secret Santa brings joy to people in need in East Idaho through an anonymous donation and with the help of East Idaho News in Idaho Falls. The giving began in 2015 when Nate Eaton, news director at East Idaho News, received a call from a person wanting to give away $100,000 in gifts to local people in need. The Secret Santa just needed the news site to find the people first. The idea was an immediate hit and the paper's email server almost crashed from the number of nominations they received the first year. The program has evolved and grown rapidly since then. Last Christmas, the Secret Santa pot was raised to $500,000. Secret Santa looks for people who just need a break. "“They’ve run out of luck, they’ve run out of money, they don’t ask for a handout, they’re working hard, they have specific needs, and they just need something to get ahead in life,” said Eaton. Film and production crews go out to several places each day during November and December to hand out gifts. To nominate someone (you can’t nominate yourself) for the Secret Santa program, you just need to fill out an application on the paper's website when the applications are opened for the year — normally in October.