Teen who helps raise 5 siblings after their mom passed away receives big surprise from ‘Secret Santa’

Emily, an eighth-grader, and her family have had a difficult few years.

Her grandmother died of cancer a few decades ago. She was followed by her mother, who lost her battle with pancreatic carcinoma. Worse, her death came just a week ahead of her birthday.

The 14-year old Emily was left with the enormous responsibility of taking care of her dad and her five siblings. She was the eldest of her siblings and had to take care of her family.

Emily and her younger siblings sitting in front of a Christmas tree

All of them have had to adjust to the loss of their mom. Emily tried her best. She didn’t know that there was someone outside of their family who appreciated her efforts.

Emily’s friend wrote East Idaho’s “Secret Santa” to introduce the teen and say why she deserves a great Christmas gift—and Santa took note!

For the past seven years, an anonymous benefactor, dubbed as “Secret Santa,” has been in partnership with East Idaho News to give lavish gifts to any Idahoans who deserve them.

Nate Eaton leads the East Idaho News elves who travel to various locations throughout the holiday season to surprise people by giving them gifts large and small. Secret Santa gave away $1million in gifts this year, and Emily was one of the lucky recipients.

Emily and Henry opening up their gift boxes

The squad arrived unexpectedly, bearing gifts for the young lady. She wasn’t home yet when they arrived, but her dad assured them she would be coming home from school soon, so they waited.

After several minutes, Eaton saw the teenager and her brother and approached them. The team introduced themselves to Emily and informed her that they had gifts for Emily.

Emily and Henry opening up their gift boxes

“We have presents for you, and you can share them with your siblings,” Eaton said.

Emily and her brother looked confused, trying to figure out what was going on.

Eaton explained that they were given the gifts by an anonymous individual. Emily opened the first package and was shocked to discover multiple gift cards from local restaurants.

“What?”, Oh my goodness! Thanks,” she exclaimed after learning the gift cards were worth a thousand dollars. Emily and her family could easily eat at any one of these restaurants for a long time with that amount.

Emily waving to the camera to thank Secret Santa

The second box contained $2,000 worth gift cards for their personal use. They can use them to purchase shoes, clothes, and other items for their whole family.

“This is not a joke,” Eaton said. “You look like you kinda questioning what’s happening here.” The young woman replied, “Yeah, yeah, I’m questioning.”

Emily, a budding cook, was the next surprise. Secret Santa gave Emily a $1,000 gift certificate to grocery stores and a $1,000 gift voucher for Bed, Bath, And Beyond.

Emily almost went to Bed, Bath, and Beyond on the day she wanted to shop. Luckily, she didn’t go as planned because a big surprise awaited her at home.

Emily's dad hugging her

“Merry Christmas, you guys,” Eaton greeted them, and Emily cheerfully replied with a simple thanks.

“To whoever did this, thank you,” she said while looking at the camera.

Although the teen was initially skeptical, her demeanor changed quickly. She was happier and more relaxed than when she first met the squad. Emily even waved to the camera and said, “Thanks. Thanks a ton,” to the nameless donor.

East Idaho News has filmed Emily and Henry opening their gift boxes.

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