A LITTLE BIT OF SUNSHINE: Paying it forward and a surprise message from Santa

Published: Apr. 24, 2020 at 9:33 AM EDT
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The coronavirus pandemic can feel scary and overwhelming, which is why the WITN News at Sunrise team wants to share some good stories happening in our world every Friday morning.

Liz, Jim and Austin will each pick a story highlighting the helpers, the givers or just anything to simply make you smile during this trying time.

The stories will highlight people in our own community, country or around the world.

Here are the stories highlighted on April 24:

Liz's Choice:

It's only April, but Santa is getting a head start this year! Old St. Nick is putting on his red suit again and bringing joy to everyone stuck at home.

Santa is sending messages to kids and families all across the country. You can request a message at his Facebook page Southbound Santa. He just needs to chat with a parent first to get some additional information to make the message as personal as possible.

Liz was lucky enough to talk to Santa herself, and he had a message for Jim, Austin and Eastern North Carolina.

Read the transcript of his message below:

"Good morning Eastern North Carolina and the viewers of WITN. I'm here at the North Pole where it's very cold and rainy. We're outside with the reindeer practicing for the reindeer games. Our elves are inside making plenty of toys for this year at Christmas. I wanted to come to you and tell you my good friend Liz got in touch with me and she said, 'Santa, would you send a message to my friends Jim and Austin?' I said 'of course I will, Liz.' Jim, you've been sending us sunshine when we need it the most. I'm very proud of you for that. I'll be bringing you plenty of donuts this year at Christmas. Austin, you deliver a great story and you always keep us laughing. I certainly appreciate all of your efforts. I think there might be a fishing trip in your near future. Ho Ho Ho! Again, from the North Pole! Have a great day Eastern North Carolina!"

To talk to Santa yourself,

Austin's Choice:

Austin, who was born and raised in New England, so naturally a Dunkin Donuts lover, had something very kind happen to him at the drive-thru this week.

He says he was pulling up to the window to pay for his order, when he learned the person in front of him had already paid for it. He says with negativity on the minds of so many right now, it was a great reminder that there are good and thoughtful people all around us.

Austin says he plans on paying it forward to someone else at the drive-thru line this morning.

Jim's Choice:

A number of people and businesses are paying it forward for those fighting on the frontlines of the pandemic.

Gail Tripp from Speight Properties in Greenville donated hundreds of dollars worth of gift cards to local police officers.

Olivia's Catering in Kinston also fed first responders in Lenoir County this week.

Across the nation, McDonald's is giving "thank you" meals to healthcare workers, police officers, firefighters and paramedics. They can get a free meal each day for the next two weeks anytime of day at the drive thru or carry out. You just have to show a work badge or be in uniform.

Starbucks is also giving out free tall brewed coffee, either hot or iced, to first responders and healthcare workers until May 31.

The “A Little Bit of Sunshine” segment will air at 6:45 am on Friday mornings.

If you have an idea you want to be featured, e-mail Liz at or Austin at

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