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Meredith Holt, Published December 24 2012

Kids staying at YWCA Emergency Shelter get surprise gift

FARGO – With help from two local businesses, all 40 children staying at the YWCA Emergency Shelter were getting a Christmas Eve gift of a personalized card from Santa Claus, a crisp $50 bill, and, of course, candy.

Per the donors’ request, the yearly donation has remained a mystery – even to staff at the Fargo shelter. Only two people within the YWCA Cass Clay organization know their true identities.

“So many people do so many great things in this community; I don’t need to be singled out,” said one of the donors, who only agreed to speak to The Forum anonymously in order to protect the tradition.

Each year for the past seven or eight years, the donor gets the first names of the children at the shelter the day before Christmas, writes in the cards, stuffs them with cash, pairs them with the candy and drops everything off at the shelter.

Shelter staff does the rest.

“They’re waking up in a strange setting; there are no presents; there’s hardly anything there,” the donor said of the children.

The donors include extras in case more children arrive throughout the night, though there are usually 40 or 50, which adds up to $2,000 to $2,500 a year. The donor doesn’t remember the number ever being less than 30.

“It’s worth every penny of it. If I could pick up a kid and take him to the store and buy him toys, I would,” he said with a laugh.

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Readers can reach Forum reporter Meredith Holt at (701) 241-5590