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Giving the gift of Christmas...that's what anonymous people across the country have been doing for families with kids who are struggling financially.
It's been all over the news; people going into K-Mart stores and anonymously paying off the layaway balances of families who couldn't afford the toys and clothes they put on their layaway for their kids.
What started out as a 'water cooler chat' about the joy that would bring to mom's and dad's who are not able to give their kids the Christmas they had hoped, has resulted in me holding $180 (and growing) sum of donations to take over to K-Mart Thursday afternoon and apply toward the balances of families with kids.
"I can only imagine the relief the parents must feel."
"I can't give much, but I would like to do something."
These are just a couple of the phrases I'm hearing as people have contributed to our K-Mart layaway donation.
I spoke with the manager of our local K-Mart who said that this is a beautiful thing, and she's seen more of it this year than ever. Even several of their employees and managers have have played the role of Secret Santa.
Many of the stores have very long lists of accounts with items that will be returned to stock because people could not pay. Our local K-Mart is keeping these accounts open longer than usual because the Secret Santa tradition has been bigger than ever this year.
How You Can Join in the Fun?
If you would like to pay off someone's K-Mart layaway, you should first check with the store to make sure they have layaway accounts that are still open and that they will allow you to play Secret Santa. Then head into the store and tell them how much you would like to donate so they can look up an account that has a balance to fit your budget.
You may also choose to specify that you want to pay off someone's account who has kids toys on layaway. You may also ask the store managers if they know their regular customers, with layaway accounts, who are raising a family and struggling to make ends meet.
You will want to pay off all but a penny of the account so that the layaway stays on file. The store will then contact the person with the layaway and let them know that a Secret Santa has paid off all but a penny of their account and they can come pick it up.
Can You Play Secret Santa at Other Stores?
Absolutely! Many different stores will allow you to play Secret Santa. I spoke with the manager at our local Wal-Mart who said that he would be happy to help someone who wanted to do this, but unfortunately the cut off time to have the layaway accounts paid off and picked up was December 16th. It might be something to keep in mind for future years if there is not a K-Mart close to you.
I just had someone else bring in another $20 to donate as I'm finishing up this post, which brings us to $200 so far. Several of us are planning on taking a "FatWallet field trip" to our local K-Mart on Thursday to play Secret Santa. I can't wait!
What other fun ways could someone play "Secret Santa?" Please answer the question in the comments and share this post in social media!
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