Two women embrace, happily, in New York City.

After almost two years of shutdowns and social distancing, something extraordinary is happening: We’re getting back to the things we love — with the people we love by our sides. We’re traveling, going back to the movies, dining out with friends and making plans for the holidays.

As schedules begin to return to normal and our lives get hectic once again, there’s excitement and hope, but also the arrival of more expenses. From commuting costs to school payments, these expenditures are expected. But they’re also another stressor as we head into the holiday season.

Planning for the end of the year can always be challenging, but the personal, emotional and financial impact of these last 20 months have taken their toll. Some have been able to save, but others have had to stretch their finances more than ever before. Despite these challenges, the resiliency displayed over and over again has been truly incredible. That commitment to bouncing back inspired us, as a financial ally for our customers and communities, to find a way to applaud this perseverance.

So, on Saturday, November 20, Ally set out on a mission to surprise and delight with a series of anonymous donations throughout New York City.

We kicked things off with the most important meal of the day (brunch) and picked up the check for chilaquiles, coffee and other morning essentials at multiple diners around the city. Fully fueled and ready for an active day on the town, we headed to Rockefeller Center for an hour of free skating (on us). At lunch, we stopped at a local food pantry to cover the costs for 200 Thanksgiving meal kits ahead of the holiday. And you can’t go to New York without catching a show, so we stopped in at the matinee performance of the Broadway musical “Come From Away” and covered the cost of everyone’s afternoon at the theater.

To top things off, we went to the place where life’s celebration begins — the maternity ward — and surprised 29 new parents at hospitals in Harlem and Queens with $500 to help cover the costs of diapers, clothing and other supplies. No hoopla, no confetti, no Ally representatives hiding around the corner — just some extra support for dozens of families.

Now, we’re coming clean and letting you in on our secret plan to spread some joy and a little bit of a financial boost.

Why? ’Tis the season. Thanksgiving and the holidays are upon us, and while it is a festive time of year, it’s also expensive. Whether it’s for gifts, family gatherings or New Year’s parties, we could all use a little extra cushion. We wanted to lighten the load (at least a little) where we could, and spread some holiday cheer in the process. Money may not buy happiness, but it is essential to achieve financial security, and in that journey, we believe we’re all better off with an ally.

Why New York? We wanted to reach as many people from as many walks of life and corners of the globe as we could in one day. As the world has come back to life, so too has one of its greatest, most resilient cities. New York offered the perfect crossroads to have the broadest impact.

Why anonymous? We have to admit, we love a good mystery (don’t you?). But mostly, we wanted everyone to enjoy the moment, not detract from it by making anyone feel like they were in an Ally ad. We didn’t ask recipients for anything, but we did give them a hint: a slip of paper with an invitation to check out the hashtag #TotallyCovered on Twitter and share their story. The rest was entirely up to them.

Thankful Hearts

At Ally, we don’t just believe it’s our responsibility to make a positive impact on the world around us, it’s who we are. Today we are grateful for the strength of spirit our communities have shown us. The response to Totally Covered is an incredible reminder of our resilience — and what we can achieve when we have an ally.

Head over to Twitter for more about Totally Covered and hear from those who have shared their experiences from this extraordinary day. #TotallyCovered