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Widowed Mother of 9 and School Janitor Shocked by Amazing Secret Santa Gift
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Uplifting News

Widowed Mother of 9 and School Janitor Shocked by Amazing Secret Santa Gift

When tragedy levelled her life, a struggling mom was on the brink. Then, a Christmas miracle happened.

Among kindness quotes, one reads that "Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind." By that measure, Yuko Shelton checked all the boxes.

Per the East Idaho News, her life is all hard work and selfless giving. She moved to America from Japan, where she made a life with her husband Mark. Together, they cared for 9 children, including two teenage daughters.


Shelton worked tirelessly as a custodian at Inkom Elementary, putting her elbow grease and heart into her job. No matter the toll that life took on her, Shelton always kept a warm smile.

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After work, she'd volunteer her personal time teaching children about origami. And despite her struggling to stretch a dollar, she'd selflessly give teachers $5 for their birthday, which moved them to tears because they knew how little she has.

Yet Shelton's American dream turned dark when Mark fell ill with a tumor. However, driven by duty, Shelton even got her license just so she could take him to his doctor's appointments.

Yet in a cruel twist, Mark died, leaving his wife with 9 nine children to care for on her own. But in her darkest moment, a holiday miracle shined on her.

How a Secret Santa Saved a Single Mother of 9

The light would be led by Nate Eaton of East Idaho News. For years, he’s led the annual ‘Secret Santa’ initiative whose sole motivation is to find and surprise kind souls with an overdue thank you.

One day, Eaton and his Secret Santa squad descended on Inkom Elementary, where everything was planned with one person in mind. 

Working with school officials, a fire drill was planned to get everyone outside. Once they were all out, the school official called Shelton out from the crowd. Cameras captured Eaton introducing himself to the shy custodian as he made small talk about the Idaho weather for a few moments to help her relax.

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He then revealed that he came from a Secret Santa, and for one reason.

Holding three boxes, Eaton handed her the first one. 

“Could you say thank you to whoever provided this for us?” Shelton asked, taking the first box as Eaton said he would. 

She then pulled out a check for $1,000, showing it to the crowd of cheering teachers and kids.

Eaton then handed her box number 2. A visibly shocked Shelton pulled out another check, this time for $10,000 to an even louder chorus of cheers. 

“And we have one more gift for you, are you ready?”

Not Shelton or anyone else present could have been ready for what was inside box number 3. 

The Amazing Christmas Gift That Shocked Her

The mother of 9 opened up the third box, gasped and looked at Eaton wide-eyed.

“Do you know what that is?” asked Eaton.

“That’s a key,” replied Shelton. 

“Secret Santa bought you a car, and it’s right over there,” gestured Eaton, guiding a shocked Shelton in its direction.

“I’m very very appreciative because we need a new car,” she said, “I’m still paying my husband’s medical bills, so this helps a lot.” Another Secret Santa success in the books.

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The teachers and kids cheered and went over to hug her. For once, they were taking care of her. As Shelton sat in the passenger seat while Eaton gave her a tour of her new ride, teachers came by to spread the Christmas cheer. 

“You deserve it, you’re amazing!” beamed one teacher. 

“There’s not a more deserving person than you,” chimed another. 

“Someone told Secret Santa about you, and he said that she definitely deserves this. And that’s what everyone else has told us," said Eaton.

How One Mother of 9 Proved That Kindness Creates Miracles

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Photo by : Ron Lach

Without her husband, 9 kids and meager pay, it's tough to imagine just what kept Yuko Shelton going. It's enough to bring anyone to their knees.

Yet in a strange way, when life takes it all away from you, all that we really have is who we are and how we treat others. Then, our fate is up to faith.

In many ways, this story shows is not only about the power of kind strangers helping a struggling mom. It's also about how one selfless mom's big heart attracted the best the world has, with a miracle coming in the nick of time.

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