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Storm survivors showered with cash

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NEW YORK — A wealthy Missouri man posing as "Secret Santa" stunned New Yorkers, handing $100 bills to many in Staten Island who had lost everything to Superstorm Sandy.

The Kansas City businessman is giving away $100,000 this holiday season, and spent the day in New Jersey and New York giving away thousands. But he says money is not the issue.

"The money is not the point at all," said the anonymous benefactor as he walked up to surprised Staten Island residents and thrust crisp bills into their hands.

"It’s about the random acts of kindness. I’m just setting an example, and if 10 per cent of the people who see me emulate what I’m doing, anybody can be a Secret Santa!"

A police motorcade with sirens took him across the borough, passing a church ripped from its foundations and homes surrounded by debris. At a nearby disaster centre run by volunteers, a woman quietly collected free food and basic goods.

"Has anyone given you any money?" he asked her.

"No," replied Carol Hefty, a 72-year-old retiree living in a damaged home.

"Here," he said, slipping the money into her hand.

She broke down weeping and hugged him.

And so it went, again and again.

— The Associated Press

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