Mystery ‘Mike’ gives $2K

Published 10:44 pm Tuesday, December 23, 2008

FRANKLIN—Department of Social Services employees were all abuzz around lunchtime Tuesday, just after a stranger walked in and gave a social worker $2,000 in cash to help the needy.

He must have been an angel or Santa Claus — or maybe just an average guy with a bigger-than-average heart, the workers guessed.

“I want to see him, because I think he has some wings,” said Valerie Taylor, who was sitting at the front window.

Taylor and her co-workers may never know.

The man, who would only identify himself as “Mike,” didn’t want any hoopla surrounding his gift.

“He wanted nothing,” said Terry Rose, the social worker on call who took the money from the stranger. “He didn’t even want a receipt. It was really amazing.”

Rose, who described the man as looking like “a hard-working guy, about 6 feet tall with salt-and-pepper-colored hair,” said “Mike” first asked her how he could help a family at Christmastime.

“I’m going to give you $2,000,” he said.

“That would help a lot of families,” she replied.

“Mike” told Rose that he would be back, and she thought that might be the end of it — until he came back 15 minutes later with 20 crisp $100 bills in hand and gave them to her.

Rose begged to know his full name or to give him a receipt, but he told her no. And then she asked to give him a hug.

“He was crying when I hugged him. We were both crying,” she said.

The agency, which normally helps about 900 families a month, has had to turn away many people asking for help this week because the people didn’t fit the government’s criteria for receiving assistance.

“The money that comes in from government always places restrictions on who can get it,” said Beth Reavis, Franklin’s director of social services. “People don’t always fit in those little boxes or specific categories.”

Reavis said she has never seen such generosity from one person in her 35 years of social work.

“Churches and businesses and lots of people and organizations have been extremely generous this year,” she said.

“We have a ton of benefactors, but this was so unexpected and spontaneous that it caught us off guard. We were just so blown away — and grateful.”

Rose called a woman who had been turned away on Monday and told her to come back to the office for help — something she would not have been able to do without “Mike.”

“ ‘Mike’ has done a lot more good than he knows,” Rose said.

She purchased 10 $100 Wal-Mart gift cards to give to needy families for Christmas. Part of the donated money also helped to pay utility bills for three elderly residents.

“We still have $400, and now we won’t have to send someone away,” Rose said. “Sometimes God hears our prayers.”

A woman stopped Rose in the hallway of the Social Services building just after receiving her gift card.

“Thank you for the blessing,” the woman said, beaming.

“That was that angel who came by this morning,” Rose said.