It’s a Christmas classic almost any child could recognize.
“You better watch out, you better not cry, you better not pout, I’m telling you
why. Santa Claus is…” well, some may say he’s already come to one West
An anonymous donor made a stop at the Vienna Kmart in Wood
County earlier this week bearing
gifts, but maybe not the kind you’re thinking of, wrapped up and tied with a
bow. No, this Secret Santa brought the gift of Christmas cheer through a rather
large donation. Kyle Chester, the store manager, explained.
“He came to the store
around noon and went back to our
layaway department and had requested to pay off some layaways,” Chester
said. “He said that he wanted to pay off multiple layaways that contained toy
“Typically, you see people pay off two or three or maybe
even five layaways, but he requested we get together as many layaway contracts
they’re called Layaway Angels, people who go to a Kmart or WalMart and pay off
the balances of layaways that contain items for children. It’s a trend that’s
spread across the country only within the past few years.
Andrew Stein, Chief Marketing Officer for Kmart, said that
trend may have something to do with the downturn in the economy.
“I think people care
about the communities they live in and they care about the people in their
communities. They want people to potentially experience what they are able to,
but those less fortunate aren’t able to,” Stein said. “So, you know, it’s a
really nice thing.”
The notion of Christmas being a time of giving often
inspires many of us to donate, whether it’s a few dollars in a bright red
Salvation Army bucket or a bag of canned foods to the local food pantry, but
Stein said the gifts these angels are giving are a little different.
different than donating to a charity. I think this feels very personal and it
feels like you are making a difference for a very specific family,” Stein said.
shares in that belief. While the anonymous donor creates the joy, Chester
and his staff get to share in it with those who receive the donations.
“It’s definitely an
incredible experience to get to hear the customers when we call them to let
them know when their layaway has been paid off by an anonymous donor. Some
people have tears of joy, some people are screaming with excitement, others
have laughter of disbelief and others think it’s some kind of practical joke,
and it’s always a joy for the management team to call the customers and invite
them to the store to pick up their layaway that’s been paid off,” Chester
This year’s Secret Santa in Vienna paid off the layaways of
41 families, at a total of more than 86 hundred dollars, and while he may be
one of the largest, Stein said the company takes reports from stores every day
of people across the country doing the same, making a small donation to spread
some holiday cheer.