'Layaway Angels' Trend Makes Holiday Miracles for Struggling Families

angelFirst we heard about the mugging victim who turned around and bought his attacker a hot meal, now we have the "Layaway Angels" trend sweeping the nation? I'm starting to feel like I actually stepped into the movie It's a Wonderful Life. (Except everything is still in color.)

If you haven't heard about the Layaway Angels, prepare to have your day significantly brightened. The movement seems to have started in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where a woman anonymously paid off the layaway accounts of three strangers in a Kmart store. You know, just to be nice. Really. Just to help out a fellow human being around the holidays.

Amazing enough that one woman found herself so taken with the spirit of generosity. What's beyond amazing is how that one act of kindness is spreading goodwill like wildfire. Nationwide.


Whatever you want to call them -- Layaway Angels, Secret Santas, Good Samaritans -- these kind-hearted souls are showing up in Kmarts and Wal-Marts everywhere. Apparently the most common approach is for an Angel to ask store employees which outstanding accounts are most in need of a donation. (Not surprisingly, these accounts usually turn out to be attached to a struggling mom who's trying to buy her kids Christmas presents.)

Cy Tottleben, manager of a Kmart in Galesburg, Illinois, explains:

They’re coming in requesting someone who has a lot of toys or kids clothes. We know a lot of our customers by name, so we know their stories. We know someone who’s waiting tables and has five kids to raise.

And in a rare stroke of cosmic justice, those are the customers whose balances the Angels quietly pay.

Usually the amount needed to balance an account is relatively small, about $100 or so. But locations like Silicon Valley have gotten wind of this notion as well, and one Angel there spent $9,800 getting a group of needy shoppers out of debt.

Clarence? Clarence?

Are you starting to believe in miracles?


Image via c_chan808/Flickr

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