Secret Santa leaving lasting impression in New Mexico town

SOCORRO, N.M. (KRQE) – It is the season of giving and that is evident at one local electric company’s office. A yearly visitor there stays for just a short time but leaves a lasting impression.

In the small town of Socorro, there’s a big secret.

“They just come in and they walk into my office and go okay, ‘I’m here to help, who can I help?’ And that’s it,” Adriana Arellano, Socorro Electric Billing said.

Someone is playing Santa but you won’t find the gift under the tree.

John Thomas is a recipient. When he got a call he said, “yeah but I didn’t pay the bill,” and he got the response, “well but it’s paid.”

Around this time, for the past eight or nine years, a secret Santa has been paying off electric bills.

Each year, it’s someone different and they’re chosen carefully.

“The recipients, it just seems like this comes at the right time,” Rob Adams, with Socorro Electric said.

That could not be more true for John Thomas and his family.

“It was close to Christmas time,” Thomas said, looking at his wife. “And you’d been going through all of the chemo and radiation treatments,” Thomas said he was strapped for cash, drowning in medical bills.

But, he wasn’t the only one worried about keeping the lights on.

“I didn’t know how I was going to do it,” Rachel Vallejos said. “It was like borrow from Saint Peter to pay Saint Paul.”

Vallejos said for years she just couldn’t keep up.

Then, just before Christmas, they both got a call.

“I’m the one that gets to tell [them], ‘well secret Santa paid for your bill so Merry Christmas.’ It’s like the best thing ever,” Arellano said.

“I was very happy, relieved and thankful mostly thankful, that’s what it is, it’s Christmas,” Vallejos explained about getting the gift.

The gratitude is plentiful.

“I would just say thank you, thank you because this impacts people in a way that they’ll never image,” Adams said.

“Thank you, whoever you are,” said Vallejos. “Thank you very much, you made my life a little better.”

A few years ago, the thank you even came in a hand-written letter.

“You will always be in my heart and prayers,” wrote the recipient.

But who got the letter? Could it be a neighbor? A local doctor? Or someone at the grocery store?

“I have no idea and I’ve tried finding out, let me tell you,” laughed Vallejos.

The folks at Socorro Electric know, but they’re sworn to secrecy.

“They want to be anonymous, so I respect that,” Arellano said.

After all, nobody’s ever seen the real Santa. That’s the magic of Christmas.

The Secret Santa has paid out thousands of dollars to keep lights on in Socorro.

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