Christmas came early this year for employees at Cronig’s Market and the Vineyard Haven Stop & Shop when an anonymous customer gave every employee in both stores a $100 bill on Christmas Eve.

Mike Johnson, manager of the Vineyard Haven Stop & Shop, and Norma Blidgen, a manager at Cronig’s, both received a call from a customer on Wednesday who said he wanted to thank their employees for their hard work throughout the pandemic. The customer said he wanted to remain anonymous and asked the managers how many people their store employs. He told the managers he would come by the next day to drop off a token of appreciation.

Letter from a grateful customer who wished to remain anonymous. — Courtesy Stop & Shop

On Christmas Eve, the managers met the person outside their stores. Ms. Blidgen and Mr. Johnson said he handed them large envelopes with a letter and many smaller envelopes inside. “I thanked him and he said Merry Christmas to your staff and thank you for doing what you guys do,” Mr. Johnson said.

Mr. Johnson took the envelope upstairs to his office and called in two of his year-round shop stewards to tell them what had happened. Together they opened the envelope and read the letter.

“Dear Friend, You have braved Covid to keep stores clean and safe, and shelves stocked to meet our needs,” the letter reads. “Our family resides year-round in Tisbury, and we would not live here without the tireless and courageous efforts of essential service workers like you.”

In addition to the letter, there was a $100 bill for each employee at the store.

“The letter was just amazing. The letter itself brought people to tears,” Mr. Johnson said. “And then the $100 bill, I’ve never seen this in my career, none of my colleagues have either. It’s just above and beyond what anybody would expect.”

At Cronig’s, Ms. Blidgen said the entire store was moved by the anonymous customer’s kindness. “We really appreciate it, everyone does,” Ms. Blidgen said. “We are grateful and highly appreciate it.”

Mr. Johnson called his employees up to his office two at a time to read the letter and receive their gift.

“They all opened them up right there in the office and the reactions, some people cried, some people said the letter made them cry, some people said ‘you don’t know what this $100 means for me right now,’ it was just very emotional but happy,” Mr. Johnson said.

He said many of his employees wanted to know who went to these lengths to thank them so they could show thanks in return. But Mr. Johnson said the customer wished to remain anonymous and said there are other ways they could show their appreciation.

“We can thank him by keep doing what we’re doing, keep providing good customer service, keep the store clean and well-stocked. We’re just grateful that this happened,” Mr. Johnson said. “There is a Santa Claus.”