I heard something in the news that made me happy. On December 6th a woman walked in to a K-mart store, in Grand Rapids, Michigan and paid off three layaway accounts for strangers, as a Christmas gift. I loved the idea. I imagined how these strangers would feel when they discovered that the balance on their accounts had been paid and they had a little extra money for other things. The best part about this story is that it inspired other people, across the country, to do the same thing for other strangers who may be struggling financially and needed to pay for their gifts over time. I heard one man say that he just bought some gift cards and handed them out to people who came to make a payment. Another “secret Santa” went into a Walmart store and made $8,800 in payments for 23 customers. This is really what Christmas spirit is all about.
Kmart is one store who has had the layaway plan for customers for 40 years. People can make payments over an 8 or 12 week plan. When I was a kid, layaway plans were common in many stores, but they aren’t so much any more. I guess with the economy being in shambles, it’s an idea that might be restored again, especially at Christmas.
This one act of generosity seems to have become a trend. It is estimated that 1,000 people in 25 states have done the same thing. One person even shelled out $9,800 to pay off all 63 accounts at a K-mart in California. Isn’t it refreshing to see people thinking of others and trying to make things a little happier and easier for them at Christmastime? It’s heartbreaking to think there are children who will not have anything under their tree this year, some will not even have a tree or a big Christmas dinner.
But one woman, who thought she was helping three families to have a better, happier Christmas, performed a kind act of generosity that had a ripple effect. It was a simple idea that caught fire and spread. Those who have, wanting to help those who don’t, and that makes everyone feel better. Now hundreds, if not thousands of layaways have been paid off and all those gifts will be wrapped and under the trees of families across the country. Who knows how many more accounts will be paid off this week? I hope many, many more.