After a tough 2020, a mother in Liberal, Kansas wanted to give her kids a special time to end the year. Leticia Gonzalez asked her 4-year-old twins Luna and Gianella to write letters to Santa and tie them to balloons, sending them flying into the sky.
About a month later, a grandfather living more than 650 miles away found a red balloon tangled in a downed tree.
“I’ve dreamed my whole life of finding a balloon with just a name and number and calling and saying, ‘I found your ball,'” Alvin Bamburg of Shreveport, La., Told CBS News. . At the end of December, Bamburg was walking near his home when this dream came true.
He immediately picked up the ball. “I saw a note attached to it. And on that note, it was sealed with a single red star, and I thought, ‘What is this?'” Said Bamburg. . “So I opened it and it was Luna’s Christmas list.”
The ball belonged to one of Gonzalez’s twins. His mother never thought that anyone would even find the balloons, let alone answer the letters.
“I just thought it was something cute and a different way to send a letter to Santa Claus other than the usual way to send it by mail,” Gonzalez told CBS News.
The girls released the balloons on December 1. They traveled to Mexico for Christmas and, upon their return, were surprised to see on Facebook that one of the balloons had been found in Louisiana.
Bamburg immediately understood that the Christmas list was important to the little girl who had written it. So when he found the balloon, he and his wife posted it on Facebook, where he said it “spread like wildfire.”
Within 24 hours, Bamburg discovered that the ball was from Gonzalez and his twins. He also heard from many friends who wanted to help him fill out the Christmas list, which included a “Frozen” doll and candy.
“All of my friends started to say, ‘I would like to donate’ or ‘I would like to donate’. And we got all the gifts we could – the puppy was the hardest to find, ”he said.
Yes, Luna’s list also included a puppy – and Bamburg, determined to get every last gift, wanted one.
In April, after months of playing Secret Santa, Bamburg found the perfect dog. He and his wife drove to Kansas, and the Gonzalez family met them halfway through Oklahoma.
There, strangers exchanged gifts.
“I just felt like they were part of the family now,” Bamburg said. “When they picked up the puppy, they just showered us with food and gifts. And we will be going back in about a month or two. We’ll give them some Louisiana goodies.
Bamburg said the girls’ sweet reaction warmed his heart. He and Gonzalez hope that sharing their experience shows how a kind gesture from a stranger can spread joy to countless others.
“So many wonderful people still exist on this Earth,” Gonzalez said. “Even if he’s a stranger who takes time out of his day to make someone happy.”