Santa's helper helps the needy

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- One of Santa's helpers roamed the streets, thrift stores and coin-operated laundries of the state's capital, making small talk before peeling $100 bills from his pocket and giving them to needy strangers.

"He just said Merry Christmas and gave me $100," said Yvonne Dail, 50. "I don't know what to say except that I needed it. I just got divorced, had my gas turned off and I've been feeling pretty low."

Shannen Messer, 27, had $15 in his wallet Wednesday when Secret Santa gave him and his sister $300 as they shopped at a Volunteers of America thrift store.

"I'm stunned," said Messer, who is helping his sister raise seven children. "He just saved me a whole lot of stress. Christmas is rough. We can sure use the money."

When the day was done, Secret Santa had handed out $4,500.

The generosity of Columbus' Santa came with one caveat: "Do something nice for somebody this Christmas."