Angels lend a hand at Christmas“Layaway angels” landed in the Twin Ports. People have been stopping in at Twin Ports Kmart stores since Saturday, anonymously paying off all but the last few cents on layaway bills for strangers.
By: Maria Lockwood, Superior Telegram
“Layaway angels” landed in the Twin Ports.
People have been stopping in at Twin Ports Kmart stores since Saturday, anonymously paying off all but the last few cents on layaway bills for strangers.
“I think it’s wonderful with the economy,” said Michelle Schachte, assistant manager at the Superior Kmart. “People who can give are giving.”
Good Samaritans paid off more than a dozen layaway contracts at the Superior store.
One woman who walked in Saturday to brighten the season for others said she was truly blessed, and wanted to pass it on.
Another man said he had no one to buy gifts for this year. Most benefactors asked to pay on layaway bills that include children’s items like clothing and toys.
When the bills are paid, store employees contact the customers. One man who stopped by to pick up his items Tuesday said he had lost his job and didn’t know how he was going to pay his layaway bill.
“He was ecstatic,” Schachte said.
Up at the Miller Hill Kmart, seven of these secret Santas had stopped in by Tuesday to pay between $20 and $600 on layaway bills for others — some paying off multiple bills at once. Assistant Manager Paul Conley said he’s never seen this kind of giving in his 32 years with Kmart.
“It’s nice to see people help people at this time of year,” he said.
Retail employees clock a lot of extra hours during this season. Having “layaway angels” drop by and seeing the happiness they give, Conley said, “makes the Christmas season extra special.”
Kmart stores have offered a layaway option for customers for nearly four decades. Walmart offers layaway for jewelry year-round, but this year again offered layaway for electronics and toys.
According to Walmart spokesperson Kayla Whaling, no “layaway angels” stopped in at Twin Ports stores. But they have visited many stores nationwide.
“We’re amazed,” Whaling said, that customers continue to make a difference in the lives of others. “The generosity is overwhelming.”
The Twin Ports giving reflects a nationwide trend to don wings.
According to an Associated Press article that appeared in the Duluth News Tribune last week, the “layaway angel” phenomenon appears to have begun with a good Samaritan in Michigan, then spread from coast to coast.
A number of local benefactors mentioned seeing the article or reading about the practice on the internet, according to Conley, which prompted them to join in the giving.