’Twas a day in December,

Gray, dreary and cold.

But on a bus in North Deering,

There was cash to be doled.

In red velvet suit, white beard, and a hat,

Santa Claus boarded, his envelopes fat.

In each was a note wishing warm Christmas cheer,

And a monetary message: “Yes, help is right here.”

One hundred dollars, no questions asked.

In a nascent tradition of secretive giving,

A nameless donor has offered wealth for the masses.

Twenty grand, handed out by a guy in hat and glasses.

Now in his fifth year, no one knows where he will go,

Only that when he arrives, the dollars will flow.

So on this particular morning aboard bus number six,

A little Christmas spirit was just the right fix.

As if in a dream, people could hardly believe it.

Here, have some money, to spend as you see fit.

One by one riders boarded, frowns turning to joy,

When each realized that this was no fake ploy.

“Yes,” they exclaimed, “there is still good the world.”

For Steven Bondarko, age 50, of Portland,

The gift was welcome, if somewhat unplanned.

For early this fall, his woes really began.

“I’ve been going through really hard times.”

Health problems and depression weighed on his mind.

He said, with care he will spend the cash he received,

He hopes it will last a week, two or three.

For Pam Smith, 61, the jolly meeting was fate.

“I was supposed to take the quarter-to-eight.”

Instead she met Santa, her day going great.

With cash in hand and hopeful message unfurled,

Smith pondered the meaning, her mind all awhirl.

“It means,” she said brightly, “there’s hope left in this world.”

Where will she spend it? On family or friends?

“No,” she replied, brimming with glee,

Smith said she would spend it only on “me.”

Later that morning at a jobs agency,

that works to help people with disabilities,

sat Kate Dazet, who’s looking for work.

She receives each month a government check.

But all of her needs are not always met.

“This is really helpful,” said Dazet, still in hat and coat.

She said this year has been lean, “I’m pretty much broke.”

She plans to go shopping, and spend carefully

“And save some of it. This is a lot of money.”

For the final stop on Santa’s good-will train,

Was a place where heartbreak is a familiar refrain.

It’s where, every week, kids’ dreams do come true.

At the Make-a-Wish Foundation, it’s the least they can do.

So on this day, interrupting phone calls and big meetings,

Santa came by with cash and season’s greetings.

One by one, they accepted the thin envelopes,

And one employee was struggling to cope.

Whitney Miller said she was “a little thrown off.”

But at free money, she sure did not scoff.

Now his work nearly done, Santa began his slow mosey,

But out on the street, there was one day left to make rosy.

Renee Gould, 42, called for Santa’s attention.

He obliged, gave her a Franklin, with no condescension.

Gould is homeless, so to a hotel she will go.

Enough for two nights, she said she’ll be set.

It was, she said, “the best Christmas present yet.”

So off Santa went, his sleigh nearby in wait,

a late-model Nissan with a single Florida plate.

Only $3,000 so far, he roughly estimated,

But his desire for charity is still not sated.

“I’ve got lots of other deliveries to make.”

So he bade his farewells, Nissan standing by.

Goodbye, he said. “I’ve got to fly.”

Matt Byrne can be contacted at 791-6303 or at:

[email protected]

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