Anonymous donor’s gift brings $100 bill to every St. Francis House guest and employee

Local News

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Gifts big and small are in the spotlight on Christmas Day. Sometimes we can make a smart, educated guess about who might give us something. But other times, it’s a surprise. The St. Francis House in Sioux Falls gives transitional housing to guests, and an anonymous donor has ensured that all staff and guests there receive a $100 bill. But this Christmas story doesn’t stop there.

Darrin Stringfellow has known hard times; his cancer is in remission and he lives with Parkinson’s disease. He’s a guest at the St. Francis House.

“It’s allowed me with everything I’ve been through, it’s allowed me to have an opportunity and get a life back,” Stringfellow said.

He is one of 90 guests to receive a $100 bill from the anonymous donor. The 30 people on staff also receive a $100 bill.

“I teared up a little bit,” employee Nichole Barry said. “It’s good to feel appreciated.”

“It just lets you know that you’re not alone,” guest Jay Jones said. “You’re not alone.”

St. Francis House Executive Director Julie Becker had a message to guests when presenting the gift.

“Please know that this donor wanted to let all of you know that you guys are all special people, okay?” Becker said. “Your circumstances do not define you. You are all here for a reason, and it’s all different, and everybody is working their plan to get on to a better way of life.”

“It’s going to mean a lot, a hundred dollars is a lot,” Barry said. “See, I’m almost tearing up right now.”

Becker explains that the donor’s motivation came from seeing a CBS Evening News story about another donor giving out money and kind words. So, the local donor made it happen at the St. Francis House. On Thursday with her staff, Becker asked them to continue the theme.

“The only thing that I ask is that with this gift that you get, that you continue the momentum of paying it forward,” Becker said.

“I think a lot of them will probably use it on their kids, families, stuff like that,” Barry said.

Becker made the same request of guests on Saturday.

“Maybe it’s putting a couple dollars in the Salvation Army red kettle, maybe it’s buying someone a cup of coffee,” Becker said.

Jones has an idea of what he’ll do.

“Even though we do eat here well, there’s still a lot of people out there that aren’t eating well, and I will seek out somebody and try and buy them a meal,” Jones said.

“It is very humbling to know that this donor selected us and the work that we do,” Becker said.

When KELOLAND News interviewed Stringfellow right after Becker presented the bills to guests, he said he was feeling “overwhelmed.”

“I have saved a year’s worth of rent in four and a half months, working the two jobs, and they’ve given so much more, a sense of worth, though, not just the monetary things and a warm bed,” Stringfellow said. “I feel like a complete human again.”

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