This time of year, generous donors have anonymously paid off layaways to unsuspecting residents but this year that act of kindness seems far more profound given the uncertainty of the pandemic. But Christmas came early for families across the country who learned that their layaways were completely paid off, a surprise totaling tens of thousands of dollars.
Many families in Tennessee received a Christmas gift they will always remember when donors paid off layaways at multiple locations. A Walmart in Madison TN had $21,000 worth of layaway items paid for by a partnership between Pay Away the Layaway and Cottonelle Brand. The national charity makes it their mission to pay off layaway balances of children’s gifts, clothing and essentials. Lee Karchawer and Ian Bel, founder and co-founder of the organization Pay Away the Layaway, a nonprofit to which people can donate to help pay off layaway accounts at stores around the world. Karchawar started Pay Away the Layaway in 2011 after he read a story about an anonymous man who paid off $25,000 in children’s gifts and toys on layaway.
Another anonymous shopper donated $64,995.51 to pay the balance of items placed on the store’s layaway in Bristol TN. Recipients of this act of kindness received notifications that their items had been paid off, but a manager soon let them know about the magic behind it. In the nearby city of Oxford, an anonymous donor paid off the remaining $25,000 in layaway balances at a different Walmart. It was unclear if the money was donated by the same man. The donor’s primary motive “was to positively affect as many people as possible.” The Christmas cheer spread to other Walmart locations in Tennessee as well. Another location in Oak Ridge, TN had the remaining balances of 114 layaways, totaling around $29,500 paid off. According to the company, the money was provided by a check and layaway orders with toys were given first priority.
Twenty-three families at a Burlington department store in New York City’s Harlem neighborhood were surprised to find that their layaway balances were paid after a donor paid $25,000 worth of items. Servicemen and women from the Naval Station in Norfolk gathered with their families at the local Navy Exchange store to learn which one of them won a raffle to have their holiday layaway plan paid in full. Instead, the 62 families were surprised with the news they would all have their layaway plans paid off, taking home nearly $15,000 worth of items.
A Walmart Supercenter in Henrico County, Virginia had a donor pay off $50,000 in outstanding layaway balances for around 100 people. Walmart shoppers in Charlotte, NC were blessed when a donor paid off. Walmart has not officially announced the total cost of the layaway pay off but customers were told they can pick up their paid for layaway items at the Wal-Mart at 7735 N Tryon St in Charlotte. Another anonymous donor reached out to the Walmart in Hazard, KY through the Pay Away the Layaway organization and paid off the $21,000 layaway balance for 96 families.
Pay Away the Layaway is a registered 501(c)3 non profit organization. Their mission is to inspire hope and help families pay off layaway balances that include gifts for their children, such as games, toys, books, backpacks, clothes and coats. When you make a donation you become a Layaway Angel! Collectively, the foundation crowd funds donations and visit stores across the country to surprise families and make a real difference.