Watch shocked customers receive an unforgettable gift from very generous Secret Santas.

Amid the ads, long lines, and mall parking lot battles, it's easy to forget that winter is the season of giving.

GIF via "Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas."


And while the rest of us generously give to our friends and family (and to one or two charities) this time of year, a few anonymous donors are doing their part in a major way to keep the holiday spirit alive.

One man, known only as Santa B, recently paid off hundreds of layaway bills at two Pennsylvania Walmart stores, totaling nearly $160,000.

Managers at the Walmart stores in Mechanicsburg and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, both received visits from the generous donor, who presented them with cashiers checks for $79,000 each to cover the outstanding layaway balances their respective stores.

"He said he'd had a very successful business and wanted to give back to his neighbors in the community," Walmart manager Steven Myers told WGAL. He also said the generous donor even bore a passing resemblance to the jolly old elf.

GIF via WGAL-TV/YouTube.

And Santa B isn't the only one making holiday wishes come true this year.

Other anonymous donors across the country have paid off layaway bills at their local Walmart stores. One mystery donor paid off balances totaling nearly $100,000 at two stores in northeastern Ohio. And another donor in northern Florida made a $200,000 donation to cover layaway bills at stores in Gainesville and Chiefland.

Image via WGAL-TV/YouTube..


It should be noted here that the Waltons, the family of Walmart founder Sam Walton, have a combined net worth of $149 billion and easily could've done this with every single one of their stores and still had enough money left over to swim in Olympic-sized money pools. So while it's doubtful, I'm secretly hoping these generous donors are the Waltons in disguise. Or at the very least, that the Waltons see these stories and are inspired to give back to the minimum-wage workers and the shoppers that keep them living so comfortably.

Don't hold my breath, you say? Fair enough. Back to celebrating all of this holiday do-goodery.

Even the local police are getting in the giving mood.

An anonymous donor gifted the Hutchinson, Kansas, police department with $1,500 to give to people in need. The Local Fraternal Order of Police heard about the donation and matched it.

With the $3,000, officers have been stopping people randomly (and in some cases, surprising people with a known need) to make some holiday wishes come true. As if being randomly pulled over by a cop only to find out you aren't actually in trouble isn't gift enough.

"We’re just there to give him some money for the holidays, and you can really see it on their face, and [when] we give him the money, how happy they are," Officer Grant Ingram told local news station, KSN.

Photo via iStock.

Deputies near Tucson, Arizona, are handing out $100 bills to unsuspecting residents, thanks to a big donation from a former Secret Santa.

"'Secret Santa' is a guy who used to get on his motorcycle and give out $100 bills to people during the holiday season," Sheriff Chris Nanos told KVOA. "An accident left him unable to do that anymore."

So Santa passed the torch (and a $10,000 donation) to the Pima County Sheriff's Department, where deputies have the delightful task of making the season bright for people in the community.

Not Pima County's motorcyle-ridin' Secret Santa but close enough. Photo by iStock.

You don't need to be a millionaire (or even a thousand-aire) to make someone's day.

Whether it's paying it forward the next time you're in the drive-through, donating a winter coat to someone in need, or simply plugging a meter that's about to expire (so long as your city is cool with that), you too can be a hero this holiday season.


GIF via "Mean Girls."

(Just leave the whole "coming-down-the-chimney" thing to the pros, OK?)

See some of the smiling faces courtesy of Santa B in Pennsylvania in the video below:

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Judy Vaughan has spent most of her life helping other women, first as the director of House of Ruth, a safe haven for homeless families in East Los Angeles, and later as the Project Coordinator for Women for Guatemala, a solidarity organization committed to raising awareness about human rights abuses.

But in 1996, she decided to take things a step further. A house became available in the mid-Wilshire area of Los Angeles and she was offered the opportunity to use it to help other women and children. So, in partnership with a group of 13 people who she knew from her years of activism, she decided to make it a transitional residence program for homeless women and their children. They called the program Alexandria House.

"I had learned from House of Ruth that families who are homeless are often isolated from the surrounding community," Judy says. "So we decided that as part of our mission, we would also be a neighborhood center and offer a number of resources and programs, including an after-school program and ESL classes."

She also decided that, unlike many other shelters in Los Angeles, she would accept mothers with their teenage boys.

"There are very few in Los Angeles [that do] due to what are considered liability issues," Judy explains. "Given the fact that there are (conservatively) 56,000 homeless people and only about 11,000 shelter beds on any one night, agencies can be selective on who they take."

Their Board of Directors had already determined that they should take families that would have difficulties finding a place. Some of these challenges include families with more than two children, immigrant families without legal documents, moms who are pregnant with other small children, families with a member who has a disability [and] families with service dogs.

"Being separated from your son or sons, especially in the early teen years, just adds to the stress that moms who are unhoused are already experiencing," Judy says.

"We were determined to offer women with teenage boys another choice."

Courtesy of Judy Vaughan

Alexandria House also doesn't kick boys out when they turn 18. For example, Judy says they currently have a mom with two daughters (21 and 2) and a son who just turned 18. The family had struggled to find a shelter that would take them all together, and once they found Alexandria House, they worried the boy would be kicked out on his 18th birthday. But, says Judy, "we were not going to ask him to leave because of his age."

Homelessness is a big issue in Los Angeles. "[It] is considered the homeless capital of the United States," Judy says. "The numbers have not changed significantly since 1984 when I was working at the House of Ruth." The COVID-19 pandemic has only compounded the problem. According to Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA), over 66,000 people in the greater Los Angeles area were experiencing homelessness in 2020, representing a rise of 12.7% compared with the year before.

Each woman who comes to Alexandria House has her own unique story, but some common reasons for ending up homeless include fleeing from a domestic violence or human trafficking situation, aging out of foster care and having no place to go, being priced out of an apartment, losing a job, or experiencing a family emergency with no 'cushion' to pay the rent.

"Homelessness is not a definition; it is a situation that a person finds themselves in, and in fact, it can happen to almost anyone. There are many practices and policies that make it almost impossible to break out of poverty and move out of homelessness."

And that's why Alexandria House exists: to help them move out of it. How long that takes depends on the woman, but according to Judy, families stay an average of 10 months. During that time, the women meet with support staff to identify needs and goals and put a plan of action in place.

A number of services are provided, including free childcare, programs and mentoring for school-age children, free mental health counseling, financial literacy classes and a savings program. They have also started Step Up Sisterhood LA, an entrepreneurial program to support women's dreams of starting their own businesses. "We serve as a support system for as long as a family would like," Judy says, even after they have moved on.

And so far, the program is a resounding success.

92 percent of the 200 families who stayed at Alexandria House have found financial stability and permanent housing — not becoming homeless again.

Since founding Alexandria House 25 years ago, Judy has never lost sight of her mission to join with others and create a vision of a more just society and community. That is why she is one of Tory Burch's Empowered Women this year — and the donation she receives as a nominee will go to Alexandria House and will help grow the new Start-up Sisterhood LA program.

"Alexandria House is such an important part of my life," says Judy. "It has been amazing to watch the children grow up and the moms recreate their lives for themselves and for their families. I have witnessed resiliency, courage, and heroic acts of generosity."

When "bobcat" trended on Twitter this week, no one anticipated the unreal series of events they were about to witness. The bizarre bobcat encounter was captured on a security cam video and...well...you just have to see it. (Read the following description if you want to be prepared, or skip down to the video if you want to be surprised. I promise, it's a wild ride either way.)

In a North Carolina neighborhood that looks like a present-day Pleasantville, a man carries a cup of coffee and a plate of brownies out to his car. "Good mornin!" he calls cheerfully to a neighbor jogging by. As he sets his coffee cup on the hood of the car, he says, "I need to wash my car." Well, shucks. His wife enters the camera frame on the other side of the car.

So far, it's just about the most classic modern Americana scene imaginable. And then...

A horrifying "rrrrawwwww!" Blood-curdling screaming. Running. Panic. The man abandons the brownies, races to his wife's side of the car, then emerges with an animal in his hands. He holds the creature up like Rafiki holding up Simba, then yells in its face, "Oh my god! It's a bobcat! Oh my god!"

Then he hucks the bobcat across the yard with all his might.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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