Every few months, a woman walks into the Corner Perk, a coffeeshop in Bluffton, and does something unusual.
She might order herself a coffee, or perhaps some hot chocolate for her children, and pays at the register. Once she does that, however, she'll give the cashier $100, to pay for future customers' drinks, before leaving.
Thursday morning, she did it again.
To call her Bluffton's Secret Santa would slight the nature of her giving; her generosity manifests itself year-round.
"She's done this maybe seven or eight times in the past couple of years," said store owner Josh Cooke. "She's very much into the philosophy of paying it forward."
Cooke describes the woman, who asks store employees to keep her identity anonymous, as a middle-aged Bluffton native motivated by nothing more than simple generosity.
"The first time she did it, the cashier thought she was starting some kind of a tab for herself," Cooke said. "And after hearing how she wanted the money to be used (the cashier) said, 'I've never heard of that before.'"
Such random acts of kindness might be more infrequent during the economic downturn, but Cooke said customers are all the more appreciative of the woman's gesture.
"They're really surprised and grateful when we tell them their drink's already been paid for," Cooke said. "And that money tends to last all morning before it runs out."
Cooke advertises the free coffee on the store's Facebook page and welcomes the subsequent boost in traffic.
"We're really excited when she does this, it builds hype," he said.
And what about customers who ask how to repay the mystery giver?
"We just tell them to pay it forward."
Follow reporter Grant Martin at Twitter.com/LowCoBiz.