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3 Day
Thursday, December 23rd, 2010

Something for nothing?

Secret Santa gives patrons gift of coffee; customers share their own generosity

By Margie Wuebker

Celina Party Mart manager Zach Hoyng makes up a cup of coffee Thursday morning.. . .

CELINA - Customers at the Party Mart, 317 S. Main St., believe in Santa Claus - Mrs. Santa Claus that is - after receiving surprise gifts that warmed their hearts and their tummies.
The benefactor, who wishes to remain anonymous, handed Party Mart clerk Julie Brookhart a wad of money in the beginning of the month, asking her to use $5 each day- Monday through Friday until Christmas - to buy coffee or cappuccino for customers of her choosing.
"I didn't understand initially," Brookhart explained with a chuckle. "I've worked for Shell since the mid-1990s and nothing like this happened before."
The woman told Brookhart to take the payment for her coffee out of the first $5 and then consider the remainder of the money as an advanced payment for customers that Brookhart selected.
The clerk decided to target customers who brought in their own mugs because paying the cheaper 50-cent refill charge would make the money go farther. Consequently, she could surprise 10 people each day instead of five.
Brookhart and fellow clerk Barb Lockwood have given numerous explanations to selected customers who brought their filled mugs to the cash register and discovered they owed nothing.
"Our goal is to target new folks each day in order to spread more cheer," Brookhart said. "People don't know how to act when it comes to getting something for free. You can't believe all the startled looks we get in return."
Some tossed a couple quarters into a cup on the counter and told the clerks to buy Mrs. Santa Claus some holiday cheer. Others took her lead and purchased coffee or cappuccino for someone else in the store at the time. Two people - a woman and a man -even added $5 bills to the original donation.
"This is a good example of how helping others can catch on big time," Brookhart said. "Think what would happen if we all shared in the gift of giving even on a small scale. And for all of us here at the Party Mart, we certainly believe in Mrs. Santa Claus."
Additional online story on this date
Marion Local's volleyball coach Amy Steininger was getting a little emotional when she found out that the American Volleyball Coaches Association named Flyers' all-around star Alyssa Winner as a first-team All-American and invited her to play in the Under Armour All-American Match. [More]
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