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65-year-old McDonald’s employee gets unforgettable surprise from Idaho's Secret Santa

For the past six years, a mysterious Secret Santa has been surprising Eastern Idaho families with Christmas miracles.

65-year-old McDonald’s employee gets unforgettable surprise from Idaho's Secret Santa
Cover Image Source: Getty Images (representative)

For the past six years, many deserving families across the Eastern Idaho region have been blessed with Christmas miracles by a mysterious "Secret Santa" with a generous heart. Gifts including thousands of dollars in checks and sometimes cars have come calling for these families during the holiday season to help alleviate their struggles. While kindergarten teacher Darci Orchard and Carissa Heaps — a mom of eight who is also caring for many ill family members — were surprised with cars, Robert and Phoenix Rowley received hundreds of dollars in gift cards and a $5,000 cashier’s check to help pay off their mounting medical bills.

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Among those on the anonymous Secret Santa's "nice" list this year was a 65-year-old named Diana Boldman. According to Nate Eaton of East Idaho News, who has been facilitating the surprises for the last six years, Boldman and her husband Cameron (who is also 65 years old) wake up early every morning to deliver newspapers in a fairly large geographical area in Idaho Falls. The couple drives an old van that has run almost 240,000 miles and often breaks down. After the paper route, the elderly woman goes to her full-time job at McDonald's.

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Although she's been thinking about retiring, Boldman has to work as she provides for their living expenses since Cameron is on disability. When Secret Santa heard about the Boldmans, he asked the East Idaho News elves to drop by with an early Christmas gift for the old couple. "A local Secret Santa who lives here in our community said 'I want you to go to McDonald's and I want you to surprise Diana with this car," Eaton said in the newscast, "...not only is she gonna drive home in this car today, Secret Santa also bought her $5,000 in gas cards."

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Secret Santa also gave her a $1,000 check to take care of the registration expenses and get started on her holiday shopping. "The key is you don't want to have somebody receive a large gift and then [they] have to pay the taxes on it or any fees or things like that," Eaton explained, reports Inside Edition. "So Secret Santa covers all of that. If somebody gets a car, the taxes have been paid for. The only thing the person has to pay is the registration and he gives them a check to take care of that."

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The elderly McDonald's employee could hardly believe it when she was presented with the new car and was understandably in shock. "Oh my goodness," was all she could say as she held back tears. "Tell the Secret Santa I said, 'Thank you ever so much,'" she added once she'd regained composure. Eaton, the one person on the East Idaho News team who knows the Secret Santa's identity, revealed that it all started with a random phone call in 2015. He received a call from a man who wanted to share his wealth and wondered if the news station would help spread his passion for holiday cheer.

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"It is a local person here. I think if you were to meet him on the street, he might deny it," said Eaton. This year, over $500,000 in gifts will reportedly be given out to members of the community. Each family is nominated to be recipients of the donations, following which they undergo a long vetting process by Eaton and his team. The gifts this year will be bigger than ever and will include money towards a prosthetic leg, a pickup truck, and a 15-seat passenger van.

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