The past month has been hard on Laureene Furnari.
She had to move out of her home and put her stuff in storage.
She had to split her family apart. The 50-year-old mother of two is now staying with a friend. Her 11-year-old daughter is living with a family member, and her 20-year-old son is sleeping at a buddy's house while trying to find a job.
Money is tight, which made Saturday amazing.
She was among 2,000 Las Vegas families given $500 U.S. Bank gift cards in a gymnasium at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Las Vegas.
The cards, a result of a $1 million donation to United Way of Southern Nevada from an anonymous Las Vegas casino owner, were delivered to people the United Way and its partner programs determined needed it most.
The cards can be used for anything. As soon as the backs are signed, the plastic becomes as good as cash.
It is the second time the same anonymous person has made a million-dollar United Way donation. The first came in December.
The only thing that changed this time was the donor's nickname, Summer Santa instead of Secret Santa.
The donor and United Way wanted the gift cards to be a surprise. Workers sent letters and made phone calls, inviting families to come to the gym. The families were told they would receive something, but they never knew exactly what.
Some found out early.
Tyler Griffin, 10, said a worker from his school told him he would get a gift card when they got to the gym. That gave him some time to think about what he wanted to buy.
"Video games!" he said after jumping up and throwing his hands above his head.
"Shoes," his dad corrected him.
For others, like Furnari, the card remained a surprise until she tore back the flap of a white envelope.
In a parking lot outside the gym, she expressed gratitude for a stranger's generosity.
"God bless him," she said. "Whoever he is."
Then tears started building behind her glasses as she explained how the gift card will help her find another place - the first step in putting her family back together.
"We can feel like a normal family again," Furnari said.
Contact reporter Ben Frederickson at bfrederickson@ reviewjournal.com or 702-224-5512.