GALLATIN, Tenn. (WKRN) – A Gallatin businesswoman known as ‘Ms. Claus’ made two large donations to help people pay their electricity and utility bills.
News 2 sat down with ‘Ms. Claus’, who asked to remain anonymous about how she came to make this decision. Gallatin Mayor Paige Brown said it all began with a phone call before Christmas Eve.
“I was notified by a lady in our community who saw a story in another part of the country about a gentleman who donated some money to pay the cost of utility bills for clients in his community. She said I am thinking about if I can do the same thing here. I said Absolutely you can, we will figure out how.”
Mayor Brown told News 2 she recently suggested to someone a lot of utility departments have the option to round up your own utility bill. If everyone were to contribute an amount such as 47 cents or so, that would help people who cannot pay their bills to get them paid.
Brown made a few calls and says the next day ‘Ms. Claus’ wrote a check for more than $7,500 dollars.
“That ultimately paid for 60 customers with GPU to have their services restored, these are people who had been cut off. And the next week she was like what about the Gallatin Department of Electricity?”
Brown says they worked with the department and ‘Ms. Claus’ wrote another check for more than $10,000. This was able to help those who were either going to have their power cut off or did have their power cut off.
Claus says she normally supports an array of organizations in the city, and told News 2 this was an easy decision for her family to make.
“Most of these people only needed $50-100 dollars and this would help them over the edge and it just made sense. Some of these people can’t ever seem to get ahead. Unemployment, the pandemic.. we could go on and on. I think it’s just a way to reach people immediately, and help someone right now that needs help. I think there’ a lot of women out there that care and give, and maybe this will make a statement for women in general.”
Both ‘Ms. Claus’ and Mayor Brown hope this act of kindness will inspire others to pay it forward, no matter the size of the gesture.
“I hope it would be that butterfly effect. In fact, I think it already has. I had a phone call last night and a friend asked how do I do this? I told her to call the mayor,” said Claus.
“I think in a year that has seen so much heartache and sorrow and sadness… I was delighted to have something warm and wonderful. I just kept getting emotional when I told them what had happened. Because I was just really really touched that someone would make such a generous contribution. A gesture of this size is certainly extraordinary, it helped a whole lot of people.”
“She didn’t want anyone to know who it was. She did want people to know it was a woman, so she said call me Ms. Claus. I would have said a Christmas angel because we got a bit of a surprise on Christmas Eve and New Years Eve. A bright light in a dark and dreary year. It’ll help people catch up and even get ahead.”