His real name was Sam Stone. "B. Virdot" was a combination of his daughters' names—Barbara, Virginia (my mother) and Dorothy. My grandmother had mentioned something about his largesse to my mother when she was a young adult, but it had remained a family secret. Now, 30 years after her father's death, she was comfortable letting the secret out.
Collectively, the letters offer a wrenching vision of the Great Depression and of the struggle within the souls of individuals, many too proud to speak of their anguish even to their loved ones. Some sought B. Virdot's generosity not for themselves, but for their neighbors, friends or relatives. Stirred by their words, I set out to find what became of them, tracking down their descendants, wondering if the $5 gifts had made any difference. From each family, I received permission to use the letter.
Read some of the stories of those families at Smithsonian magazine. Link