DETROIT LAKES, Minn. - Is there really a man making his way around the Detroit Lakes area handing out money - by the hundreds and thousands - to strangers? Several area people say yes.
One Holiday Inn patron confirmed the story, saying he met the fellow a little over a week ago. The two got to know each other over drinks and, before he knew it, the stranger was writing him a check. The patron, who wishes to remain anonymous, says the man was picking up people's tabs left and right, like it was nothing.
"I told him, 'You're doing a great thing,'" recalled the man, adding the donor looked at him and said, "No I'm not. I'm just a bum."
According to numerous sources, the donor told them he lost his wife not long ago to cancer, and he fell into quite an inheritance, but it's not about the money. You can't pay off grief. So the man has apparently decided to give away his money to people he meets who are in need, reportedly taking out roughly $20,000 a day and just handing it to people who look like they need a little help.
Sound far fetched? A few servers confirmed seeing the man picking up people's' tabs and receiving quite generous tips from him.
Not to mention, those who say they've been on the receiving end of the stranger's generosity are sincerely grateful.
"He really helped me out," said the Holiday Inn patron, tears welling in his eyes.
The patron says he bonded with the anonymous donor because he almost lost his wife himself about a year and a half ago. He hinted that the medical costs he accrued from the incident had put him and his family in quite a tough spot but, with the swipe of a pen from a virtual stranger, he was able to get back to a comfortable place financially.
"What that man did will allow us to have a Christmas," he said.
Multiple other people at the bar said the man had indeed been there a few times, not only paying for strangers' meals but also generously tipping the servers, handing out hundred dollar bills like they were one dollar bills.
According to rumors, the generous donor, who apparently wishes to remain anonymous, was also handing out hundred dollar bills to people walking out of Walmart a few days ago.
Other recipients have come forward, confirming the man had indeed been outside of Walmart, as well as making stops at the Central Market flower shop, where he was buying people's flower deliveries and dropping off money at KFC for the ladies working behind the counter.
"He was just really sweet and wanted me to get a car wash on him," said Karla Sazama, a woman who encountered the man at the flower shop.
Another woman came forward, saying she was out celebrating her birthday with her husband when the man offered to pay for their meal: "As we were being seated he told our hostess he was paying our bill," said Debra Quittschreiber Maves. "We didn't think he was serious, but when we were done with our meal, the waitress told us he paid our bill."
The Holiday Inn patron said he was also incredulous when the anonymous man signed a check over to him.
"I said, 'Is it good?'" the patron recalled, adding that he asked the bank teller the same thing when he went to cash it.
Sure enough, he walked out with cash in his pocket.
"He's an angel," said the Holiday Inn patron. "I would just say that anyone who has been touched by him should keep the generosity going and find a way to give back. That's what I'm going to do."