A woman in Michigan got Bill Gates as her Secret Santa in Reddit's anonymous gift exchange program. He sent an 81-pound package full of her favorite things.

Bill Gates is known for his philanthropy, and for improving living conditions for some of the world's poorest people. But he's also just plain generous. Since 2013, he's participated in Reddit's Secret Santa gift exchange which randomly assigns Reddit members to send gifts to and receive gifts from other Reddit members across the nation. This year, a Reddit member with the username Szor received an 81-pound package full of gifts perfectly suited to her tastes. 

Szor, who is 33 and whose first name is Shelby (she prefers not to share her last name), has participated in 95  Reddit gift exchanges so far -- they take place throughout the year and not just at holiday time. "It's one of my hobbies," she explains in a video about the gifts. On the evening of December 17, as Shelby was getting ready for bed, she received an email alerting her that the Secret Santa gift destined for her had shipped, according to her post on Reddit Gifts. She was surprised that the gift was being shipped by FedEx overnight and from Washington State. "Huh, wouldn't it be something if my Santa was Bill Gates?" she joked to her husband.

Later, she also noted the surprising fact that her package weighed 81 pounds. "MY PACKAGE IS BEING OVERNIGHTED ACROSS 8 SHIPMENT ZONES AND IT WEIGHS 81 POUNDS," she wrote. That was her first inkling that this might be something truly out of the ordinary. 

When she arrived at the FedEx office after waiting impatiently through the workday, she was told, "You're the BILL GATES package!!!!!! We've been waiting for you all day. Is this really from Bill Gates, or is it a hoax?" she writes. "Out from the back walks a huge box with man's legs. 'What does "#95" mean?' asks the man-box. 'It's labelled big on each face.'" It took her a moment, but then she remembered that this was her 95th Reddit gift exchange; In his letter to her, Gates wrote that he was very impressed by that. "You seem like a very generous person," he added. 

Too big for the car.

Shelby couldn't wait to get her package home and open it. There was only one problem -- it wouldn't fit in her car. So she called her husband and asked him to meet her at the FedEx office with his bigger car, and hurry. He did, but the package wouldn't fit in his car either. Much to the delight of the FedEx employees and other customers, Shelby had no choice but to open the package right there. At least the gifts inside were giftwrapped, so she had the pleasure of unwrapping them at home.

It turned out to be quite a haul. Gates had sent his deck of books (a deck of cards with the names of his favorite books on them), some books that he thought Shelby might like, but also a manuscript edition of The Great Gatsby, scanned images of the original pages with F. Scott Fitzgerald's handwritten notes on them. Shelby is a fan of The Great Gatsby and even included some lines from it in her wedding this year, so she was particularly pleased with that gift. There was a Harry Potter Santa hat, two sets of adult-level Legos, a wide assortment of candies, a hammock, a cat-themed logic game, and seven packages of assorted Oreos, among other things. Shelby's mother died unexpectedly in 2019, just ten days before Shelby's wedding, so Gates also made a donation to the American Heart Association in her honor. "It has been hard to drum up holiday spirit this year, and this has been a taser of Christmas cheer," she wrote in her thank-you message.

Shelby also takes a moment in her video to tout Reddit Gifts, the Reddit gift exchange program. "If you haven't participated, I highly encourage it," she says. "It's a lot of fun to learn about a stranger and try to make their day and get something in the mail other than bills." The gift exchanges don't have to cost a lot -- the recommended price point is $20, although you can spend more if you want. If you sign up, maybe you'll get Gates as your Secret Santa next year.

Of course, if Gates is following the same rules as everyone else using Reddit Gifts, there's also the chance that you could be matched with him as a "giftee." What $20 gift should you buy for the billionaire who has everything? That could be a tough question to answer.

Published on: Dec 28, 2019
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