A Bountiful business owner played Santa Claus Wednesday, bringing Christmas to some 500 Utah children.

Wes Johnson, the owner of Menlove Dodge Toyota, contributed $20,000 to the United Way, Volunteers of America Sub for Santa program — enough to close the gap in funding that left 479 children without sponsors as late as Wednesday morning.

"We're all just beaming over here; it's fantastic," said Marti Money, marketing director for the United Way of Salt Lake.

Menlove marketing director Susie Carlson said the donation was prompted by news reports about the Sub for Santa shortfall, which was as high as $32,000 — or 651 unsponsored children — earlier this week. Individual donations brought that down to about 400 children by Wednesday morning. And the number now is zero.

"It's just a combined effort of great proportions, and really is symbolic that our friends and neighbors in the community heard our call and quickly sent in their Sub for Santa donations," Money said.

The Sub for Santa program had a record number of applicants this year, serving 3,372 children from 1,138 families.