As the holidays get closer, I'm starting to stress a little bit about Christmas shopping. People always say that the older you get, the smaller your circle gets...but I don't agree. It seems everyone I run in to I'm expected to buy a gift for!
Friends, families, co-workers, neighbors...that's a lot of gift-giving, which means a lot of money - money that I don't quite have. That's why I've always found the idea of layaway to be quite interesting. Making a deposit and smaller payments over a long period of time feels a little more manageable, especially for bigger families or families who are financially struggling.
For a Walmart in Vermont, however, layaway literally went away after a stranger walked in to the store and changed lives. A man, who identified himself only as 'Santa Claus,' decided he was going to pay off the store's entire layaway bill, and Julia Gates was there in person to witness it.
Gates was at the Walmart last week to pick up a few items when she heard 'Santa Claus' at the register.
"'Listen I can either have you put it on a layaway, and I'm going to pay for it when you leave. You'll just have to come right back and pick it up or you could follow me over to the cash register, and I pay for it now,'" the man said, according to Gates.
The man then turned to Gates, asking if she was purchasing any items on layaway.
"He said, "˜Why don't you run and get what you want now and come back here?" she recalled. "So I came back and he was standing there waiting. There was no one left."
Gates thought it was a joke, but it was anything but.
"He was waiting for me to come back with my layaway, and he said, "˜You know, just go over to the cash register and I'll come over and I'll pay for it,'" Gates said.
'Santa Claus' then paid off absolutely everything that was in the layaway room, which according to store staff, was packed to the brim. Who was this man? And why was he doing this? Gates had so many questions.
"How could anyone afford to do this?" Gates asked the man. "He said, "˜Santa Claus can.'"
She asked again for his name, and he only replied "Kris Kringle." Gates managed to snap a picture of the man as he walked away.
"It was kind of like surreal. When they said, "˜no balance due,' then it was really a reality," Tammy Desautels, another customer whose items were paid for, said.
"I just can't put into words how much that man has done for so many people," Gates told ABC News. "He is the true meaning of Christmas. I know personally he is my Santa Claus. He is my Kris Kringle. I'll forever have his face embedded in my mind. He's given so many people the opportunity not worrying about Christmas, to just be with their families and not stress that maybe they can't afford it."
Walmart issued a statement on the Good Samaritan, saying:
"When customers quietly pay off others' layaway items, we're reminded how good people can be. We're honored to be a small part of these random acts of kindness."
The company declined to say how much the man spent in their store.
This man absolutely changed the lives of so many people, and he did it just to be a good person. No recognition wanted. No social media post. Just a man doing something good in the holiday season.
[H/T: ABC News]