EVANSVILLE (WEHT) – An anonymous donor known as “Pete” delivered another donation to the Easterseals Rehabilitation Center Monday.

Pete, who has now made 40 donations to Easterseals over the past 30 years, delivered his donation in a gift bag hanging on the therapeutic playground fence at the nonprofit organization’s building, officials said.

“It took us a minute, but he had placed the gift bag on the fence at the back of the playground and we found it and reached up and then found what was inside,” said Pam Kirk, Director of Marketing & Community Relations at Easterseals Rehabilitation Center. “We always give a big wave after we find the bag, hoping that he sees that that’s our way of saying thank you.”

The gift bag contained a wooden advent calendar shaped like a Christmas tree along with 30 $100 bills pinned to the calendar, totaling $3,000.

The rehabilitation center staff will purchase gifts for children with disabilities from disadvantaged families. Including this delivery, Pete’s donations over the past 30 years now total $97,450, Easterseals officials said.

The anonymous donor left a hand-written note along with the donation that read, “You will hear from me again. Pete.” 

Like many local non-profits, Easterseals has struggled raising funds due to the pandemic. Pete’s only request is that Easterseals uses all his money to buy presents for their kids.

“Of course a lot of our families have financial hardships every year around this time, but I think this year especially,” Kirk said. Kirk explained more and more families are qualifying for financial aid for the therapy costs due to the effects of the pandemic. On top of that, Easterseals hasn’t been able to do as much fundraising.

Kirk said even during a strong fundraising year, Pete and his elves are saving Christmas for many families.

“Because all of those fundraising dollars go directly to therapy, that’s one reason that Pete’s gift is so special,” Kirk explained. “He wants those kids to be kids at the holidays.”

Between Pete’s gift and the help from the community, Easterseals staff believes nearly 150 of its families won’t have to stress about gifts this Christmas. This is the most children they’ve ever been able to help during the holidays.

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(This story was originally published on November 30, 2020)