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Letter to the editor: Gratitude for the Santa of Woodbury

I pulled into the Woodbury Lutheran Church parking lot on Friday, Dec. 20. Life had handed me a life threatening car accident that broke both legs, depleted my savings, and followed it up with a job loss. After relentlessly job searching, I had only $30 to my name and a single frozen pizza in the freezer. I was unsure how I was going to feed my child the following week so I turned to the community. They sent me here, told me what a wonderful food shelf it was. I sat in my car for over 30 minutes crying, thinking this is the lowest point of my life. I debated in my head if I should go in or make one more attempt at finding a job. My dignity was lost, but knowing that I had another mouth to feed was enough to make me open the car door and go inside. I hung my head low, feeling completely inadequate as they guided me through and filled up my cart. It must’ve been apparent that it was my first time there, as the woman next to me handed me her favorite loaf of bread and said this is the best one, you have it, but make sure you re-bag it so it does not become stale.

I then headed out the door into the parking lot with my grocery cart full. My broken legs hate cooperating in snow, and even more so pushing carts uphill. It was a struggle, but I made it and opened the trunk of the car. As I turned around with the first bag of groceries, I was startled by a man in a top hat and black trench coat standing beside me. I jumped out of fear exclaiming he had scared me. He quickly apologized stating he did not mean to startle me and handed me a card. He murmured ‘Merry Christmas’ and quickly walked away. I opened the card and inside there was $100. I instantly started crying and turned to see the gentleman was getting into a truck not far from where I was parked. I quickly put my groceries in the trunk, returned the cart inside, and drove over to the stranger’s truck.

Inside was the man in his top hat with a blonde woman beside him, he rolled his window down as I approached. The tears were still flowing and I thanked him repeatedly. I wanted to jump through his window and give him a hug. He told me to stop crying as I explained to him that never in my life had $100 meant so much. I said he was an angel and that because of him, I could now buy my daughter a Christmas present. His words were few and he handed me another card. I told him that I couldn’t take it, to give it to somebody else, but he insisted and said now you can buy her two presents. As I turned to get back into my car, my legs felt no pain, my heart was full of happiness, and relief was in my soul.

I got home and told my daughter the story of what had happened. I went on to explain the theory of pay it forward and how the next opportunity I have, I will return this gift to someone in dire need. Although the $200 was what I needed at that very moment, the real value here is to inform Woodbury that we have a real life Santa. A man in a top hat and coat, who gave me the opportunity to teach my teen daughter that although life is not always fair, you get what you give so always pay it forward. Thank you Mr. Claus.

Jennifer Brooks