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Lifestyle & Human Interest

'Secret Santa' Pays Off $65,000 in Layaway Balances at Walmart

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Despite the smaller gatherings and canceled plans this year, much of Christmas looks the same. Neighborhoods are decked out in twinkling lights, families have been making lists and checking them twice and people have been amassing Christmas presents and putting them on layaway until they can pay them off.

And looking to bring a little more joy to that process was an unnamed person who decided to bless shoppers at a Walmart in Bristol, Tennessee.

According to what employees told the shocked recipients, a man came into the store early on Dec. 7 and asked to pay off all the layaways, saying he wanted “to positively affect as many people as possible.”

The total came out to $64,995.51 — no small sum.

Store Manager Kris Light told People that the gesture was heartwarming and deeply appreciated.

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“It’s especially touching when customers pay off others’ layaways during the holiday season and serves as another example of the generosity our customers show year-round,” Light said.

“We’re honored to play a small role in these acts of kindness and we love seeing the joy it brings to our customers this time of year.”

Customers who benefited from the act of kindness were surprised, and many have reached out to voice their thanks and share their excitement.

“I got a notification on my email that my layaway had been paid for,” Lloyd Leonard told WJHL-TV. “And I thought ‘That’s kind of weird.'”

The manager explained the situation to him.

“She said, ‘Yeah somebody came in this morning at 6 o’clock and paid everybody’s layaway,'” Leonard explained. “‘But he wants me to tell you that he loves you, God bless you, and Merry Christmas.'”

April Hilliard was another shopper whose Christmas was made all the more merry thanks to the mystery man.

“And she said ‘Honey, your layaway is paid in full and he said Merry Christmas and he loves you,'” Hilliard said she was told. “The emotional type that I am, I just, I just broke. I just started crying.

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“That restores my faith. You know, it’s like a Christmas miracle. He’s Santa, you know, that’s what he is. He’s a Santa to everyone here.”

Other people have shared news of the unexpected windfall online — and for some, it’s creating a ripple effect.

“There are still good people in the world,” Katie Bowers, one of the recipients, posted on Facebook. “Thank you, whoever you are, for paying off the remainder of our layaway at Walmart.”

“Same girl! I’m still in shock!” Samantha Cross commented. “But, with this, I’ll be able to do a little extra for certain family members and pay it forward with the rest.”

There’s no telling just how many people that Secret Santa affected, but thanks to him, Christmas will be a little bit brighter for many families this year.

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Amanda holds an MA in Rhetoric and TESOL from Cal Poly Pomona. After teaching composition and logic for several years, she's strayed into writing full-time and especially enjoys animal-related topics.
As of January 2019, Amanda has written over 1,000 stories for The Western Journal but doesn't really know how. Graduating from California State Polytechnic University with a MA in Rhetoric/Composition and TESOL, she wrote her thesis about metacognitive development and the skill transfer between reading and writing in freshman students.
She has a slew of interests that keep her busy, including trying out new recipes, enjoying nature, discussing ridiculous topics, reading, drawing, people watching, developing curriculum, and writing bios. Sometimes she has red hair, sometimes she has brown hair, sometimes she's had teal hair.
With a book on productive communication strategies in the works, Amanda is also writing and illustrating some children's books with her husband, Edward.
Austin, Texas
Languages Spoken
English und ein bißchen Deutsch
Topics of Expertise
Faith, Animals, Cooking