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INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — Taking pictures with Santa is a tradition for many families, but for some, the expense of those photos you take at the mall can be a lot.

Especially for one teen mom in Independence who, thanks to a good Samaritan, got an unexpected Christmas gift.

“She loves Santa Claus,” teen mom Carrie Porter said. “Just the whole beard, and she kept looking at him and stuff. They were so sweet. She loved the toys and the environment. She was just super happy.”

Porter’s 1-year-old daughter, Aria, loves Santa. The Independence mom had Aria when she was 17 years old and said she struggles financially.

“It’s been really hard not only trying to feed me, but feed my daughter, and trying to find jobs and stuff like that,” Porter said, “to be able to support her and be independent.”

Even though times were tight she wanted to give Aria a special Christmas memory. Porter tried to take her to Bass Pro Shops to get Aria a free photo. But the line was too long, and the store was going to close. So she decided to go to Independence Center.

Carrie Porter, Aria and Santa Claus

“I scrapped up everything that I could,” Porter said. “I got all my money together. I needed the cheapest packet possible.”

Brianna Fitzpatrick was her photographer. She said when Porter came in she could tell that she was a good mother but didn’t have a lot of money.

“I just knew then that I needed to do something,” Fitzpatrick said.

“She gave me the receipt, and she said Merry Christmas, and I look at the receipt and it says zero dollars and zero cents,” Porter said. “She told us how she bought the biggest package she had possible for us, and that I deserved it.”

Fitzpatrick gets a free photo packaged for being an employee, but she paired it with a coupon to give Porter a package worth $60. It included a picture frame, digital copies and pages of prints.

“When I gave her the receipt and it said zero dollars, I was like Merry Christmas. She just melted, and she just hugged me. It was a very emotional moment,” Fitzpatrick said.

“It’s such a nice warm feeling, honestly,” Porter said. “I never would think it would happen to me. I thought, ‘What did I do to deserve this?’ I’ve seen it happen before but never to me.”

“People just need help sometimes, just a little bit of help or maybe just a reminder that people care,” Fitzpatrick said. “That the season isn’t just about what you have to get for your nephew or your kid, but about what love you can receive and give.”

Porter posted about how grateful she was on Facebook and was able to track down her good Samaritan to thank her. Now they are connected, and Fitzpatrick said it’s all the more worth it.