He is known as the "Good Samaritan" although his identity is unknown, and residents in the German city of Braunschweig are being kept enthralled and delighted by a mystery donor who has given €190,000 ($303,000) to the needy in unmarked envelopes stuffed with cash.

The real-life fairy tale unfolds in almost always the same way - an unwitting recipient opens his or her letter box to discover an anonymous white envelope full of €500 notes. With the cash is a local newspaper article about someone in need. Often it is the person who opens the letter.

The mystery benefactor started his donation bonanza in November after a story in the local Braunschweiger Zeitung told of a resident who had been robbed of thousands in cash.

Within days an envelope containing €500 notes was dropped through the letter box at a local victim support centre, with a copy of the article.

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Since then, the nameless donor has given thousands to needy people and organisations throughout the city.

The most recent present was delivered to a local hospice last weekend. A student worker discovered an envelope stuffed with €10,000 hidden under the doormat as she was taking out the rubbish.

Since November, the Samaritan has donated unmarked envelopes each containing €10,000 to a variety of recipients, including a day-care centre for the elderly, four local charities, a choir, several kindergartens, a library, a soup kitchen and an aid organisation in Sierra Leone. In one case, a needy vicar found €10,000 behind hymn books in his church.

The Braunschweiger Zeitung has since received requests from needy organisations far beyond its circulation area asking it to report on their problems.

It has firmly rejected such demands. It has also decided to respect the Samaritan's desire for anonymity and make no attempt to find out who he is. Independent