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News Feature

Originally published in The Weekly Packet, January 10, 2019
Found under the town Christmas tree: presents for a cold winter

Secret Santa

Warm socks and winter boots were placed in wrapped boxes under Surry’s town tree before Christmas. Assumed to be empty and placed for decoration, the boxes were found to contain gifts on New Year’s Eve.

Photo courtesy of Angela Smith

by Anne Berleant

Each year in early December, community members with high holiday spirits gather ’round the town Christmas tree in Memorial Park, decorated by Surry Elementary School students, for a tree-lighting ceremony marked by carol singing and hot cocoa. The tree remains lit throughout the season before lights and decorations are taken down and stored for the next year.

Two days before Christmas, three “very large, beautifully decorated packages” appeared under the tree, Selectman Rebecca Collison said, leading her to conclude “someone decided the tree needed more decoration.” And so the gift boxes sat under the tree, through snowfall and rain and wintry sunshine, up until New Year’s Eve, when a local “Good Samaritan,” who takes care of the American flag at Memorial Park, picked up one of the boxes, Collison said, gave it a shake and realized the box was not just an empty —if beautifully decorated—shell. The Good Samaritan, aka Joe Stockbridge, brought the boxes over to town hall. Inside one box was a collection of winter socks, and in the two remaining boxes, a pair of woman’s winter boots and a pair of men’s Lacrosse winter boots, all brand new with the tags still on.

“We have no idea who put them there,” Collison said. “But we will be looking for people in our town who wear the right size shoes and need warm socks!”