Around 275 Toys R Us customers received early Christmas presents this week when anonymous angels paid off all the layaway accounts in two separate stores in Massachusetts. In the first incident on Wednesday, a woman paid about $20,000 to finalize 150 accounts in the Toys R Us Hartford Avenue, Bellingham, MA. store.
The woman who paid the Bellingham accounts has been dubbed the “layaway angel.” According to the Bellingham Country Gazette, Toys R Us employees believed she lived locally and described her as an older woman with a bubbly manner. The woman apparently wanted to hug the store manager and said, “If you have it, give it.” The woman also told a staff member that she would “sleep better at night” knowing the layaways had all been paid off.
In a second incident on Friday, an unidentified woman spent $19,600 to pay off 125 layaway accounts in Auburn, MA. Staff in both stores said the women seemed unconcerned about the total payout figure.
After the layaway accounts had been cleared, employees immediately phoned their customers to tell them of their good fortune. Toys R Us spokeswoman Adrienne O’Hara told The Boston Globe that employees said several of the customers cried while hearing the news.
One customer who gave her name only as Linda, said she was grateful for the anonymous charity. Linda told The Daily News that she had put her two sons’ Christmas gifts on the Toys R Us layaway plan as she had just $9 to spend when she went shopping last weekend. “I feel like I was part of something special – touched by an angel,” Linda said.
The toy-store chain usually gives customers 90 days to pay off their purchases, but the coming holiday period meant that final payments were due this week. However for the 257 Toys R Us customers whose layaways were paid off by the anonymous angels, the pending deadline became unimportant.
O’Hara said this weeks acts of kindness were not unusual for the store, and there had been many accounts of people paying off layaway accounts to help others. In 2013, 597 layaway orders were paid off in charitable acts. “It’s heartwarming every time,” O’Hara said.
The two women’s gifts are a part of what seems to be a trend of generosity sweeping the country. Eight layaway customers standing in line at Toys R Us in Woburn were surprised last week when a man at the front paid their combined bill of $1,200.
Earlier this month 11 children under Child Protective Services care were given 80 seconds (representing the jersey number of the donor, Houston Texans receiver Andre Johnson) each to grab whatever they could at Toys R Us, in what has been an annual charitable shopping spree for kids since 2007. Johnson spent a reported $16,266.26 on toys for the children. Police departments have also got in on the act with dozens of officers in Cape cod, Mass., handing out $200 gift cards to 26 children and taking them to lunch as part of the department’s annual “Shop with Cops” program.
Last year in central Florida, a man paid more than $21,000 in layaway balances at a Walmart store. Greg Parady told ABC News that he wanted to help people who may be struggling as his mother did while he was growing up. “I was a layaway kid so it’s nice to be able to help,” Parady said.
Stories of goodwill are becoming numerous, and stores and retailers across the country have experienced multiple incidents of “layaway angels” and “pay it forward” gifts in recent holiday seasons, so perhaps as the number of shopping days to Christmas quickly dwindles, shoppers may be forgiven for choosing to frequent Toys R Us in the hope their layaways might also be paid off by anonymous angels.
By Monica Grant
Main Photo By ahenobarbus – Flickr License
Feature Photo By MCA / Mike Allyn – Flickr License