HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - This is cool. A friend of the station gave us $5,000 with one condition. Find 50 people and do a random act of kindness for them by giving them each $100. It didn't take long to put some smiles on some faces.
On a Wednesday night, the power of faith resonates in waves of warmth and reflection through the sanctuary of True Light Church of God in Christ. It's a big church with a bright light to the heavens. And on this night, Mother Parker was leading the call.
In a pew was a dear lady, LaJonda Jordan. Her friends call her LJ.
"What we call this is a random act of kindness. I'm Greg Screws. I think I'm the lucky one to meet you here tonight," we said. "It's something here for the holidays. It's for whatever you want to do. Can I give you a hug?"
"You may," Jordan replied.
On a Sunday morning at The Rock, Rusty Nelson let us interrupt his service.
"This isn't a Deal or Dud is it?" he asked.
The Rock is just that, a foundation of hope and faith in the community. On that morning in the warm embrace of his church family, we recognized a man who so often puts others in front of himself.
"Is there a guy named - I lost his name - no, I didn't. Is there a guy named Tim Nesmith here?"
Tim Nesmith is a guy that is The Rock when the doors open and when the doors close. He also drives a bus taking people to and from their weekly service. We gave Tim $100 from our Secret Santa.
"It's not about me," Nesmith replied. "It's about what God has done in my life. I just love to go out and serve people," he told us.
At the Tinsel Trail, we found a great opportunity for a mom with a carload of teenagers -- eight of them, in fact. It was her daughter's birthday party.
"How many you got? Eight? That one is on me. We got them all. Merry Christmas."
"Thank you so much," she replied. "It's my daughter's birthday."
Tionne Griffin had been at work since 7 a.m. the day we met him. He was exhausted and had been shopping for an hour. But, he gets what the holiday is all about.
"It's all about giving, not receiving, but giving," Griffin said. "Tell me about that," we asked him.
"Always told it's best to give than receive," he said.
Tionne is just who we are looking for on this Secret Santa mission.
"I would like to help you with that," we said. "Merry Christmas."
"This is real?" he asked quietly. "Yes," we said.
While doing the Secret Santa stories, it's amazing how people that you give $100 to have no intention of using it for themselves. Jo Wettendorf fits that bill.
"We're having a toy drive on Sunday," she said. "Perfect!"
"This will be great. Thank you very much -- we're gonna give it to the toy drive," Jo said.
WHNT News 19 zipped over to Five Points for a Star Market stop, where we met 10-week-old Aubrey McKey. We surprised Aubrey's mom.
"Do you know what a Secret Santa story is? You know what those are?" we asked.
"Yeah, sorta kinda," she replied.
"Well, this is one of those. And, we're glad you stopped."
"Oh my goodness. Thank you," she said.
We found Adrian Woodland, a college student going to school and working full-time. She still finds time to volunteer in the community.
"I used to volunteer in Lincoln Village," said Woodland. "It's a great charity if anyone is looking to volunteer. I would highly suggest Lincoln Academy."
"This is a Secret Santa story, actually," we told her. "This is for you."
"Thank you! Merry Christmas," Woodland replied. "Wow. Gotta shop. I really appreciate that," she said.
Our random act of kindness/Secret Santa tour proved one thing I had always suspected. Most people, when you give them $100, will pass it forward. And, if you ask people to give them two minutes of your time...
"My parents are retired teachers," one said. "What did they teach?" we asked.
Generally, they will give you that time, even if you put a big camera in their face.
We found the Dooleys in the Costco parking lot. They had driven over from Scottsboro.
"We don't do a lot of gifts. It's not what Christmas is about," they said.
"You can take that," we said, handing them $100. "Anywhere you want to redirect that?"
"Our church has 25 families and we're a small church. We have 25 families that we're doing gifts for and food for and this will be very helpful," the Dooleys said.
Teresa Plattsmier will not be with family on Christmas Day. She will be working.
"I will be nursing my patient who needs me more. And, that's okay," Plattsmier said.
"You know, not going to see family so that you can take care of someone else seems to me to be what it's all about," we said.
"You are right, Greg. And, she is like family," she replied.
If anyone deserves a random act of kindness, it's Teresa Plattsmier.
"Merry Christmas," we said while handing her $100. "You are kidding me," she replied. "Oh my goodness. I've given a lot of my clients gifts for Christmas."
We found the Rogers family at the Tinsel Trail. Alisa Rogers said she would like to see the reason for the season remembered more.
"Jesus is the reason for the season," she said. "We're celebrating actually his birth, not the giving of the gifts for the kids. It's the birth of Jesus that makes this a special occasion," Rogers said.
The Rogers family will pass this Secret Santa along to someone who will need it.
"This is a Secret Santa story. So, that's for you," we said. "Wow." "Will you put that to use?" "Thank you. We sure can," they replied.
Shakespeare once wrote: "How far that little candle throws his beams! So shines a good deed in a weary world."
Thank you to WHNT News 19's Secret Santa for making this possible.
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