A secret Santa Claus with a joyful mission paid off all remaining layaways at a Granbury, Texas WalMart last week. The store reports that there were 21 accounts paid in full totaling about $2,000. The manager of the store, Craig Rowland, described the gesture as very touching and explained that it was also rewarding for store employees to be able to deliver the good news that their layaway merchandise had been paid for by an anonymous Santa Claus.
This isn’t the first such incident at the Granbury WalMart, Rowland reports that there were several similar acts of kindness demonstrated last year as well, though none quite so costly. Residents of the town, which was hard hit by a tornado earlier this year, are not shocked that such generosity has been shown in their close-knit community.
It isn’t just the Granbury, Texas WalMart that has seen an anonymous Santa Claus paying off layaways this season either. Earlier this month a man opened his wallet to the tune of about $21,000 to assist in paying off many of the pending layaways at a Florida WalMart. A Yelm, Washington WalMart reported just last week that a woman came in with $5,000 and told employees to apply it to others’ layaways. In total, WalMart reports that the chain has seen more than 1,000 instances of people doing the work of Santa Claus and paying off customers’ holiday layaways since September.
Other chains stores offering layaway programs for the holidays have seen similar occurrences. Last year ToysRUs saw nearly 800 layaways paid off by anonymous Santas. The corporation paid it forward by contributing $200 to Toys For Tots for each such instance and is doing the same this year.
Kmart reports having seen more than $1.5 million paid toward others’ holiday purchases throughout the years in its stores.
The motivation for such generous Santa Claus style giving varies, but some so-called “layaway Santas” say they are motivated by a desire to help low-income families provide Christmas gifts for their loved ones. Travis Meriweather of Burnet, Texas is one such Santa Claus. He has provided more than $16,000 to pay off layaways over the past several years. He says he likes to hang around layaway counters and surprise those coming in to make payments who may not have much by paying off orders for toys and games. Like many who choose to give in this way, he usually sticks to helping out with toys and food.
Recipients of this generosity have been known to turn into Santa Claus themselves upon finding out that their own layaway bill has been extinguished. Store employees regularly report that upon finding out that they have been a recipient of another’s generosity, those benefitting will take the money intended for their own layaway bill and apply it to someone else’s balance. One recipient, upon notification that her remaining $70 layaway balance had been paid said that it made her believe in Christmas again.
Apparently Santa Claus isn’t relying just on his elves to help out at Christmas this year. It looks like his helpers are in full force paying off layaways from WalMart in Texas to Kmart in South Carolina in an effort to ensure that all have a very, merry Christmas.
By Michele Wessel