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He’s just like the real Santa Claus except he’s a bit slimmer, doesn’t have the huge beard and, rather than leaving gifts under the tree, he gives away $100 bills to complete strangers.

Oh, and he also has a police escort.

A businessman dressed in red and wearing a Kangol cap with “Elf” embroidered on the back surprised residents of Reading, Pa. this week when he visited thrift stores, laundromats and bus stations and handed out $100 bills to people he met along the way.

Ron Devlin, who first reported on the Secret Santa in the Reading Eagle and accompanied the good Samaritan as he walked around the city, told NBC Philadelphia that “people were just blown away.”

Devlin told the TV station that the man, who wishes to remain anonymous, was inspired to visit Reading when he learned that it was the poorest city in the America.

“He thought that maybe there’s a lot of people in Reading who need a hand this Christmas,” Devlin said.

In the Eagle, Devlin described an encounter with Thomas Coates Jr., an unemployed man at a local bus station:

Identifying himself only as Secret Santa, the stranger handed Coates two crisp $100 bills and wished him a Merry Christmas.Coates, 36, who lives in Pottstown with his girlfriend and son, wept.

“I was brought up to believe that you take care of your family, but I can’t find a job,” said Coates, burying his face in his hands. “This man said to me, ‘You’re a good man,’ and it felt good to hear that.”

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