Secret Santas

I know times are hard everywhere, and just getting a kid a Christmas present isn’t going to solve the larger problems. But I’m so touched that so many people all over the country are doing this, anyway:

A nationwide game of Secret Santa is impacting K-Mart stores across the country this holiday season, as anonymous donors are picking up the layaway tabs for families they’ve never even met.

The movement has reached the K-Mart in Hamilton, New Jersey in which more than a dozen layaway accounts have been paid in full by Good Samaritans, according to the store’s manager.

“The range actually varies from $30 to over $1000,” said Ivan Collazo. “You have customers coming in paying multiple layaways for customers.”

While Collazo claims the store still has a layaway balance of over $20,000, he’s still amazed by the massive showing of generosity.

“You have females, you have males, different types of ages and nationalities,” said Collazo. “The bottom line is that they’re just coming in. It’s people helping people, knowing that there’s a need out there and for some reason K-Mart was chosen for this and we’re very excited to be a part of it.”

It really is inspiring, isn’t it?

The sad memories of layaways lost prompted at least one good Samaritan to pay off the accounts of five people at an Omaha Kmart, said Karl Graff, the store’s assistant manager.

“She told me that when she was younger, her mom used to set up things on layaway at Kmart, but they rarely were able to pay them off because they just didn’t have the money for it,” Graff said.

He called a woman who had been helped, “and she broke down in tears on the phone with me.

She wasn’t sure she was going to be able to pay off their layaway and was afraid their kids weren’t going
to have anything for Christmas.”

“You know, 50 bucks may not sound like a lot, but I tell you what, at the right time, it may as well be a million dollars for some people,” Graff said.

Graff’s store alone has seen about a dozen layaway accounts paid off in the last 10 days, with the donors paying $50 to $250 on each account.

“To be honest, in retail, it’s easy to get cynical about the holidays, because you’re kind of grinding it out when everybody else is having family time,” Graff said. “It’s really encouraging to see this side of Christmas again.”

Also: Chicago, the Bay area, Florida, Utah, Montana, Oregon, South Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Iowa, and Pennsylvania. If you find one in your local paper, leave it in the comments.

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