'Miss Santa' donates $17,500 to pay off overdue utility bills

Posted at 6:18 PM, Jan 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-04 22:52:15-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — An anonymous donor gave $17,500 dollars to pay off utility bills for dozens of people and families in Gallatin.

Over the holidays, a woman, known as "Miss Santa," donated the money after watching a TV story of someone doing something similar. The donor decided to donate the money after contacting Gallatin's mayor, Paige Brown.

"I said, 'I just saw this cool thing on TV. What do you think?' Well, immediately she started to get a hold of her department heads to see what the need was. How much the need was," said the secret Santa.

Gallatin public utilities came back with more than 60 names of people who've had their gas or water turned off. They told her it would take about $7,500 to get them all backup and running. So, Miss Santa donated the money to the city.

"[Mayor Brown] said, most of these were between 50 and 100 dollars. I'm thinking, geez, 50 to 100 dollars and you're going to have your heat cut off? That's just crazy. It seemed like the right thing to do," said the donor.

Public utilities were able to identify the need within a day of the donor's request. However, electric in Gallatin took a few days longer. So, the next week, Miss Santa donated an additional $10,000 to the city to restore power to people in similar situations.

"They were either single families or they were on a set income. They probably, lots of people have medical bills now. This COVID crisis has affected a lot of people. Our disparity between the haves and the have nots seems to be growing wider and wider all the time," she said.

Miss Santa hopes the gesture will be noticed by others who are in a similar position to give and the goodwill spread throughout the country.

Those who received the gas and water payments were notified by the utility provider. It's unclear how those with electricity needs were told about the money.