This mystery Santa is offering toys, coffee and the Christmas spirit to strangers
'I normally would never hug a stranger, but I was just so blown away by his kindness'
A Dartmouth shopping centre appears to be home to a secret Santa — and the holiday mystery man's kindness created a ripple effect online and in the lives of a young family.
The jolly stranger's photo appeared on Facebook after Sara Cole and her two-year-old son met him at Mic Mac Mall.
Instead of trying to identify him, Cole just wanted to share how someone she had never met asked her if he could give her son a present.
"At first I was a little apprehensive, because you just don't know these days," she said.
But gratitude quickly replaced worry.
The gentleman pulled out two toy cars for her son and Winston squealed as he wrapped his tiny fingers around them.
"And if that wasn't enough, he said, 'I have something for you, too,'" she said
That something else was a Christmas card containing a Tim Hortons gift certificate and a wish for a Happy New Year. It was signed, Love, Santa.
Cole and her son met the man around 2 p.m., just before their shift for the Salvation Army kettle drive.
By that point he had been there for almost five hours himself, lugging around two reusable shopping bags of toys instead of his traditional sack.
"He just absolutely made our day and I kept hugging him," Cole said. "I normally would never hug a stranger, but I was just so blown away by his kindness."
Others echoed her amazement.
After posting photos of the casually dressed Santa online, Cole started hearing stories from shoppers who had met him.
"It was just such a sliver of light for people to read it and people were writing to me to say that they were inspired to do something kind."
His actions inspired Cole as well.
She believes in the value of giving, saying that she remembers getting Christmas baskets from the Salvation Army as a child.
"I don't forget that that's where I came from and I want to teach my boys that it's really important to give back and be appreciative of how lucky we are."
Cole has no plans to spend the gift certificate. Instead, she and her son will deliver it and others like it to anyone along Spring Garden Road asking for a coffee.
"We'll keep the wave of kindness going — and that would have started with him."