Top Missouri Highway Patrol commanders and Ferguson police returned to the scene of sometimes violent protests after Michael Brown's shooting death — not to make widespread arrests or to deploy tear gas, but to help an anonymous benefactor spread some unexpected holiday cheer.

The secret Santa is a Kansas City businessman who hands out $100 bills to the needy. The donor says he chose Ferguson for the holiday cash giveaway to help the community recover after the August 2014 fatal shooting of Brown, who was black, by former Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, who is white.

The donor and his police "elves" visited two thrift shops and a pair of elementary schools Wednesday afternoon. They also stopped several pedestrians along the retail corridor that was the center of protests.