Escondido Police give lucky people $10K in Benjamins thanks to Secret Santa donation

Escondido Police officers show give lucky people the Benjamins thanks to Secret Santa donation.
Escondido Police officers went around town this month giving $10,000 in $100 bills to lucky people, all made possible by a donation from an anonymous person. Here is the video and  (somewhat) tongue-in-cheek titled news release issued today by EPD…

Thanks to the generosity of an anonymous donor, Escondido Police Officers had an opportunity to spread holiday cheer. Please watch this short video to get into the spirit of the season. ‪#‎lesm‬ ‪#‎escondido‬


Secret Escondido Police Program Exposed on Video

$100 bills seen exchanging hands



Prepared by Sgt. Craig Miller

ESCONDIDO – Several Escondido police officers were captured on video recently exchanging $100 bills with residents of this North County city. The transactions were thanks to an anonymous donor who provided $10,000 through the Escondido Charitable Foundation to help make the holiday season brighter for those who are down on their luck.

This is the second consecutive year that “Secret Santa” has offered up the money. The donor wanted police officers, and a few firefighters, to hand out the money since they come into regular contact with residents who have fallen on hard times or who have experienced tragedy during the year. The benefactor also expressed an interest in helping the Police Department forge positive bonds with the population it serves.

For two weeks prior to Christmas, officers were given crisp, new $100 bills and told to watch for residents who seem in need of a little extra to get them through the holiday season. Here are just a few of the recipients’ stories, as relayed by the officers:

  • Officer Joseph Putulowski stopped a woman East Valley Parkway for a broken tail light on a car that was also devoid of a rear bumper from a recent collision. Her back seat was filled with bottles and cans that she was taking to a recycling center with her two autistic sons to cash in for a few dollars to buy presents. Putulowski presented her with $100 to help put something extra under the tree for the boys.
  • Officer John Mougier met a man and his six small children at a local church to hand him $200 after learning from their pastor that he was struggling to provide even the basics for his family.
  • Lt. Allen Owens met with a couple on the west side of town whose son is struggling with an unknown neurological disorder, rendering him bedridden and unable to walk. His medical treatments are experimental, and the family must pay for them out of pocket. In addition to the cash donation, Owens also presented the boy and his brother – both dedicated Star Wars fans – with near-life size models of Darth Vader and a Storm Trooper.
  • Community Service Officer Sandra Shillito handed out $100 to a woman whose vehicle was destroyed when another motorist slammed into it as it sat parked outside their apartment a few weeks ago. The insurance payout didn’t come close to replacing the car, and their holiday plans were severely curtailed.
  • Officer Robert Craig stopped and chatted with a woman who was walking home from the store with a few bags of groceries. She relayed a story of meager existence after several costly surgeries. Her adult son was struggling to care for her and provide a meager existence to the family. Despite those challenges, the woman was thankful for what she had, and showed tremendous gratitude to the Secret Santa donor.
  • Officer Shannon Martin re-contacted an 82-year-old retired Catholic priest whose vehicle was stolen earlier in the year outside his small home on the west side of town. He promised to spend the $100 he was given to purchase literature in his quest to spread the word of God.

Many of the officers who participated in the Secret Santa program said they got as much out of the experience as the recipients of the anonymous donor’s money.

“It was great to find a sincere and genuine person who had been victimized by thieves and be able to brighten his day,” said Officer Martin after his encounter with the former priest. “This man served his community for more than 50 years, giving his heart and soul to his congregation and never expecting anything in return. The $100 bill I was able to give to him meant the world to him, and made me proud to serve my city as a peace officer.”

“This was such a rewarding experience for me,” said Officer Putulowski. “It was a privilege to be able to be the messenger for an incredibly generous person during this holiday season.”