Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2011 | 2 a.m.
It may be hard to imagine anyone affecting the lives of thousands of people in one day — especially if there are no reindeer and elves involved — but one Las Vegas local will secretly spread $1 million worth of holiday cheer Thursday to 2,000 unsuspecting families in need.
United Way of Southern Nevada received the $1 million donation from a Secret Santa to deliver before the holidays, said Cass Palmer, president and CEO of the nonprofit, which provides funds in such areas as education, health and financial stability for those in need.
The Secret Santa is an influential community member who wishes to remain anonymous, said Palmer, who explained “The intent was to not focus on the giver but the gift.”
Along with the $1 million, the donor provided only a few general guidelines for how to distribute the money: “Just give a nice holiday for struggling Nevada families,” Palmer said.
He explained the donor also wanted to make sure that gifts were received in time for the holidays.
The $1 million will be split up into gift cards and given to families, including military reservists, selected by the United Way based on financial need, Palmer said.
The gifts cards can be used on basic necessities like food, diapers and shoes or items for under the tree like a bike or a new book.
“There was a zillion needy and deserving families,” Palmer said “It was a very difficult decision.”
Families know they will be receiving something on Thursday at five regional locations, but they are not sure what exactly, Palmer said.
Though the name of the individual responsible for the million wasn’t released, Palmer said the donor calls Las Vegas home and encourages other community members to give back.
Starting on Thursday anyone wishing to make a donation to United Way to be a Secret Santa too can text “Secret” to 545454 or online at uwsn.org/secretsanta