John D. Simmons/Charlotte Observer/Twitter

Talk about Christmas cheer!

Meghan Overdeep
December 8, 2017

Since 2006, a group of volunteer “elves” has kicked off the holiday season by handing out $100 bills to dozens of complete strangers (locals who could use an extra boost in) Charlotte, North Carolina.

It’s a funny sight. Clad in red berets and accompanied by the flashing lights of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police, the anonymous “elves” spend one day each year bestowing cash—all stamped with “Secret Santa” in red—on their unsuspecting neighbors.

This year, a man named Kerry Shine was walking on Rozzelles Ferry Road when four elves appeared. Receiving his $100 bill, Shine couldn’t hide his emotion. He wiped his tears on the sleeve of his shirt and told them that no one had ever done something like this for him before. His reaction, the elves told The Charlotte Observer, was not unusual.

“I think there’s also this mental part of it,” one elf said. “That somebody cared enough about me to give me something, regardless of what it is.”

The elves have no interest in revealing their identities—that would ruin the whole thing.

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The total amount they give out varies, but it’s easily tens of thousands of dollars, Charles Rappleyea, who was part of the CMPD escort until he retired this year, told the Observer. In return, all the elves ask for is that recipients treat someone else with kindness.