Two weeks ago, NFL wide receiver Andre Johnson kicked off the holiday miracle season by taking a group of underprivileged Houston kids to a local toy store where they went on a free-for-all shopping spree. Each kid was guaranteed a game console of their choice, plus whatever else they could grab in 80 seconds (a reference to Andre's jersey number). It's the eighth year in a row that Andre has performed this miracle, and this year his tab came to $16,200. And in news that hopefully brings a smile to your face, it turns out that Andre Johnson might have single-handedly launched a toy-related miracle trend around the country.
Just a few days ago, a woman walked into her local Toys R Us in Bellingham, Massachusetts. The woman, who has yet to be identified, asked to speak with the store manager. This "bubbly older woman" had a very unusual request. She wanted to know how many toys at the store were being held on layaway. She then shocked the manager by plunking down her credit card and offering to pay off the entire outstanding balance. This random act of kindness paid off a little more than $20,000 worth of layaway toys for approximately 150 families. When asked why she was doing this, the anonymous woman explained: "If you have it, give it. Paying these balances off will help me sleep better at night."
We explained this in our post earlier this week, but in case you've never heard of layaway, it's when you buy something in installments. You pay a small service fee then spread the payments out over time until the balance is paid off. You don't actually pick up the item until you've paid the balance off completely. Layaway used to be very common when credit cards didn't exist and an appliance like a refrigerator was extraordinarily expensive. Today it is more commonly used by lower-income families, especially around the holidays when parents want to give their kids a dream Christmas.
One of the beneficiaries of this Massachusetts layaway miracle was a single mother name Linda who told her local paper that she only had $9 when she went shopping for her two boys last month. Here's Linda's reaction when she found out her layaway balance had been paid off:
"I thought, 'You have to be kidding me.' I almost wanted to cry. It was only $50, but to me that's a lot of money, and that someone would go and do that gave me chills. What she did was so caring and thoughtful. I feel like I was part of something special – touched by an angel."
Amazing, right? Well, in what I hope becomes an ongoing copycat trend, anther anonymous angel just performed a third toy-related miracle.
Yesterday, a Pennsylvania man wished to only be identified as "Santa B", walked into a the Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania Walmart and asked to speak with the store's manager. Monday was an important day for the store's layaway customers – any orders that had not been paid off by the end of business would be cancelled. So Santa B arrived just in time, perhaps on purpose. Just like the anonymous woman in Massachusetts, Santa B wanted to know the store's layaway balance. He then offered to pay the whole thing off. The balance stood at slightly under $50,000.
In the words of the Walmart store manager:
"He just wanted to bring Christmas cheer to everyone. He was in and out, kind of like Santa. Items he paid for included a lot of electronics and toys, some furniture, most of them gifts. When we started calling customers, they thought it might be a joke. Some were so overwhelmed. One lady had to compose herself. Many customers said to me, 'I can spend this on necessities'. It was a happy time."
Man I hope this becomes a big trend around the country! Makes me want to do something big like these angels!