Samantha's Secret Santa grants wishes

MEDIA, Pa. - December 14, 2011

Now, kids from Delaware County are the beneficiaries of her acquired altruism.

Bags of gifts were being donated Wednesday night including toys from Lego's and SpongeBob, to a football, and a giant plush duck bigger than some of the young kids bringing them in.

At the center of all of this giving is Samantha Johnston-Twining who has at age 25 found a calling; she has started Samantha's Secret Santa.

The exuberant, organized chaos had a very definite purpose.

Twining says all that was collected will go to the children of families struggling with financial misfortune.

She has learned of poor working parents so focused on paying rent and buying food they cannot afford the most basic of gifts for their kids.

"This one little girl only asked for a dress or a Barbie and that it's for Christmas," Samantha said.

Just four years ago, a then self-admitted self-absorbed Twining would not have noticed the need around her, but then a car crash left her a paraplegic.

At first, she felt sorry for herself, then, she says, "I realized I'm not the only person in the world suffering and it could be a lot worse."

So she reached out to friends and the people of her church, St Mary Magdalen in Media.

Most of the 'elves' who took part in the Secret Santa belonged to the church's youth group.

"I bought toys for children that don't have as much as I do," Michael Matteo said.

Monsignor Ralph Chieffo had a message for Samantha.

"We love the fact that you bring the best out of all the children here, to know they too can make a difference in the world," Chieffo said.

If you would like to donate gifts, email

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