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Anonymous donor makes dreams come true for 40 families in Bradenton

MANATEE -- He doesn’t want people to know his real name.

He likes to go by Mr. Anonymous.

But some prefer calling him, “the miracle person,” for what he has done.

“His belief is that he should be giving to others because a lot was given to him,” said Joy Mahler, whose organization has benefited from Mr. Anonymous’ largesse.

“He knows what it is not to have,” Mahler added.

What is known is that a man called Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Suncoast recently and told Mahler, who is president and chief executive officer of the organization, that he wished to anonymously donate $10,000 so that 40 families could each have $250 toward Christmas.

Beginning Monday at 3 p.m., the families, who were chosen by Big Brothers Big Sisters based on need, began streaming into the Walmart on State Road 64 to go on shopping sprees.

Walmart, which agreed to partner with Big Brothers Big Sisters, helped make Christmas even brighter for these families by giving them a 10 percent discount off their bottom line total, Mahler said.

The icing on the cake? Big Brothers Big Sisters is a tax-exempt organization so the beneficiaries didn’t have to pay tax on their total, Mahler said.

Pamela Reddick’s cart was filled with a Baby Alive, a Baby Belle and a Dance & Play Puppy just moments after the shopping spree began at 4:30 p.m. Monday.

“This means my kids have a good Christmas this year,” said Reddick, a Bradenton stay-at-home mom with nine children, including five girls.

“We know our families and their needs,” said Amber Getman, a mentor manager at Big Brothers Big Sisters.

Mahler and Getman raced through the Walmart and helped everyone shop.

“What do I get for a 16-year-old girl?” Reddick asked Getman.

“An iPod would be good,” Getman said.

“It’s all about giving,” a happy Mahler said, watching the families fill their carts.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Suncoast currently serves 300 children by providing mentors for them, Mahler said.

The mentors spend one day a week or so with their little sisters and brothers in a school, work or other setting.

“The Boys and Girls Club is a place where kids come together in one place,” Mahler said. “Big Brothers Big Sisters is one-on-one in different settings,” Mahler said. “You connect children who don’t have connections into a network with people who do.”

So, what about next year? Will Mr. Anonymous strike again?

“I don’t know that,” Mahler said. “But I believe there will be a new miracle person.”

Anyone who thinks they would like being a Big Brother Big Sister or a miracle person are asked to call the Manatee office at 941-746-7000.