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Amy Dalrymple, Forum News Service, Published December 16 2010

College students surprised by anonymous gifts

Two Moorhead college students benefited from some Christmas generosity this week.

The students at Minnesota State Community and Technical College received instructions to pick up something at the campus student services office.

Waiting for each of them was a holiday card containing a $100 bill.

Nadeesha Pitigala, a nursing student from Sri Lanka, was stunned when he opened up the card, which didn’t identify who sent it.

“I was so surprised,” said Pitigala, 22. “I couldn’t figure out who gave me this and who knows my name.”

The anonymous gifts came from four Detroit Lakes, Minn., women who were inspired after reading the book “Christmas Jars.”

Like in the book, the women saved their change all year and are now using the money to help people they feel are deserving.

One of the women works at MSCTC and wanted to give a Christmas surprise to two devoted students who are working hard to support their education.

Pitigala is pursuing a nursing degree at MSCTC and would like to go to medical school.

The other student who received the $100 works full time at Subway to pay for her education, often picking up double shifts when she can.

“I see some of these students, and they really tear at the heartstrings,” said the woman, who asked to remain anonymous.

The women also selected others in the region to receive anonymous gifts, including a family that will receive a space heater.

Another woman who is part of the group said they hope the gifts make a difference in the recipients’ lives, regardless of the size.

“We will probably not get to see the faces of the people who are getting it,” she said. “And that’s OK.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Amy Dalrymple at (701) 241-5590