Santa Claus came to town early for a group of kids in Virginia, only “he” showed up with a 26-foot truck instead of a sleigh.
The man who stepped into the gift-giving hero’s boots grew up poor in Harrisonburg, a town in the Shenandoah Valley.
Adam Armstrong, 35, showed up at his former home, Harris Gardens Apartments, to give back to his community with a truck carrying US$12,000 worth of toys.
“You see these kids and you hand them a baby doll, or a Nerf gun, a bicycle, two little boys throwing a football, and you can’t put a price on the feeling that gives you,” Armstrong told NBC News. “I consider myself very blessed.”
His generosity didn’t stop with his former home, though. After handing out the toys at his old apartment complex, he made his way to three other low-income areas and then gave the rest to the Salvation Army.
Sara Lewis-Weeks, the complex property manager, said Armstrong came to her with the proposal about a week before this happened.
“This guy shows up at my office and says, ‘Hey, I’d like to come by Saturday and give out some presents,'” she told local broadcast station WHSV, adding that she was skeptical.
Armstrong stayed true to his word and doled out hundreds of toys.
His gift-giving was so impactful that Lewis-Weeks compared his act of kindness to when Oprah Winfrey gave everyone in her audience a car in 2004.
“They thought it was going to be a couple of stuffed animals, not, ‘And you get a bike, and you get a bike, and you get a bike,’ like an Oprah for little kids,” she said.
Armstrong told WHSV he wanted to make sure everyone had a good Christmas, just like he did when he was a young boy.
He told NBC News that at one point in his early adulthood, he spent three months in jail for selling marijuana. But since then, he’s made a good living for himself selling vacation properties and paying it forward.
“Harris Gardens is close to my heart,” he told WHSV. “I use to live right here in Harris Gardens about 15 years ago, so I decided to make this our first stop.
“I mean, to watch the kids, the expression on a kid’s face, I mean, that’s just priceless.”