BY KRISTI FISH | MIRROR REPORTER — Two hundred children, 100 each in Maumee and Springfield Township, will have presents under their trees thanks to Mrs. Secret Santa.
For 20 years, an anonymous couple has provided students in Springfield schools with the presents, and 10 years ago, they began donating to Maumee students, too.
The endeavor requires planning throughout the entire year, with Mrs. Secret Santa taking advantage of buy-one-get-one-free sales, back-to-school sales, store rewards and other ways to save.
“When you buy something that’s ‘buy one, get one free,’ that one item is for you. The free item is something you give away. With different stores that have a rewards program, when you buy something and earn a reward, you buy something you want or need and can use the reward to buy something to gift to someone,” the benefactor said.
After spending the year collecting seven to eight gifts for each child, the anonymous donor brings them to the high schools, where student volunteers spend time wrapping the gifts and learning about the philanthropists’ ways.
“It’s a volunteer project for them. I explain to them that not all volunteer work has to feel like work. It can be fun,” the anonymous donor said.
She said several of the high school volunteers return each year to help wrap presents because it’s a fun way to volunteer and also help those in the community who could use the extra assistance at this time of year.
“My favorite part is just knowing on Christmas morning that there are presents under a tree for those who need it,” she said. “I like being with my family on Christmas, but knowing there are children out there who have something to open when they wake up also is my favorite.”
There are plenty of ways other people in the community can help make sure everyone receives gifts this Christmas, Mrs. Secret Santa said.
She highlighted local churches, schools, food pantries and other organizations and businesses that might have angel trees or offer the opportunity to drop off gifts.
“This was something I was raised with, the idea that we help each other, and it has grown to this,” she said. “There are 100 kids in Springfield, 100 kids from Maumee, I did 30 shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child. There’s another inner-city school district I provide small gifts for.”
Donating to local shelters is also a simple way to give back if one can afford it, and if they can’t, she suggests volunteering like the high schoolers do to give back.
“I have been blessed, so I’m just passing it on,” she said.
Maumee City Schools Superintendent Steve Lee said during a board of education meeting that the school is grateful for the husband and wife duo who provide the presents and the administrative staff that coordinates it.
“It’s been a delight to work with the administration office,” Mrs. Secret Santa said. “It’s enjoyable working with them, and hopefully we are helping the kids and their families.”