You occasionally see a story on TV about someone who goes around handing out $100 bills to those in need during the holiday season and touting the warm feeling it evokes.

Allow me to bear witness to that feeling.

Last weekend, I drove around the city of Waterville with ten $100 bills in my coat pocket, looking for just the right people to give them to.

It wasn’t my own money I was disbursing. It was from someone I have never met in person, nor do I know his name, age or where he lives.

For the last three years, he has been sending bank checks to me at my newspaper office, asking me to give the money to those I deem most deserving. The envelopes contain no return address. The first $500 check came in the spring of 2021 with an enclosed note saying he has enjoyed my writing over the years and asking that I give the money to a charity of my choice.

I was deeply honored to have been given this responsibility, and took it very seriously. After much thought, I took the money to the Humane Society Waterville Area, which always struggles for funds.


Afterward, I wrote a column about my anonymous donor, whom I assume is a man only because of the handwriting, though I am not certain. I thanked him for his generosity and kindness.

The next envelope arrived with a nice note saying I didn’t have to thank him! And inside, there was another check.

I have since tried to avoid putting the focus on him. But after his latest donation, and it being Christmas and all, I feel I must tell a bit of the story.

Over the last three years, he has sent checks totaling several thousand dollars and each time I have thought long and hard about what to do with the money, always documenting the donations and letting my supervisors know where I have directed them.

For instance, I gave money to a single woman with several children who works full time but struggles to keep them housed and fed. This fall I met a homeless man living in a tent whose eyesight was clearly poor but whose eye glasses were broken and tilting off his face. I donated money to an organization that ensured he got an eye exam and new glasses. I also donated to that organization for other purposes, including to help a homeless couple get an apartment. And so on.

Last week’s envelope arrived from my anonymous donor (from “Santa” at the “North Pole”) with $1,000 and a note saying he hoped me and my husband and our cats are well (he knows me well from my columns!)


An envelope from “Santa” arrived recently for Amy Calder containing $1,000 and asking her to “find some worthy people to share this gift with.” Amy Calder/Morning Sentinel

“I would like once again to take advantage of your unconditional kindness and ask that you please find some worthy people to share this gift with,” his letter said. “I really do appreciate you doing this and trust your decisions without reservations.”

I lay awake for two nights thinking about how best to fulfill his latest wishes, ultimately taking literally his directive to “find some worthy people.”

In driving around the city of Waterville, I found a middle-aged couple working on an old, rusted-out pickup truck, the rear end jacked up and parts lying about. I stopped, explained I was on a Christmas mission for someone else and handed each a $100 bill.

The looks on their faces were those I will never forget.

“We just lost our apartment, and if it wasn’t for friends taking us in, we’d have no place to go,” the woman said.

At a subsidized housing complex in the city’s North End, I handed another woman $100 after citing the same message.


“You don’t know what this means to me,” she said, wiping away tears. “I have four kids and no money for Christmas and didn’t know what I was going to do.”

A woman pushing a stroller on the next street over was equally grateful to be given a $100 bill, saying she has three children and five grandchildren. At that, I gave her another bill. She asked if she could give me a hug, which she did, and walked away, weeping.

It was the best hug in the world, equal to the one I received later from a woman in a grocery store parking lot, sitting in a rundown vehicle whose rear window was broken and taped over with a plastic trash bag.

I identified myself to none of the recipients, and discovered it was a profound experience, this business of giving to strangers.

Thank you, my generous friend, for gifting me the opportunity. And may you and yours have a blessed Christmas.

Amy Calder has been a Morning Sentinel reporter 35 years. Her columns appear here Saturdays. She is the author of the book, “Comfort is an Old Barn,” a collection of her curated columns, published in 2023 by Islandport Press. She may be reached at For previous Reporting Aside columns, go to

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