Some Secret Santas and Layaway Angels have been working overtime the last few days, making Christmas dreams come true for hundreds of families.
Imagine you're a family, struggling to put food on your table and pay your bills. Your layaway is delinquent 30 days, and toys which were destined for underneath your tree on Christmas morning may get shelved.
That is, until surprise Layaway Angels ease that burden for you.
It's happening in stores across the country and all over Florida. Layaway Angels are zeroing balances on layaways.
"You can't even imagine how these people feel," said Brandon K-Mart manager LaTonya Peoples, who added, you can't put a price tag on the joy these anonymous donors bring.
"We've had maybe like a thousand dollars paid off, just this week alone," said Peoples.
You can lay away and pay on gifts all year.
"The average amount has been around maybe $450 to $500," said Peoples.
Layaway Angels swoop in to help folks who are delinquent on their payments, especially families with little kids.
"We try our best to accommodate them and help them, because we don't want anything to go back, you know kids want to get their stuff for Christmas," said Peoples.
One of the most laid-away toys this year?
"This is LaLa Loopsy!" said Peoples. "And it's very popular."
Even some old-school favorites, like the Furby, are back.
"Back with a vengeance!" said Peoples with a big smile. "And we can't keep 'em stocked, they're flying off the shelves!"
"We can head down this way," said Peoples as she led us to her store's layaway department, where lines were steady to pick up.
Ariel was a customer there, who had a pile of stuff and a hefty bill to go with it.
"$400 and some...$436," she said, scratching her head. She's able to pay her own bill and was happy for the families who got help.
"I think that's awesome!," she said smiling.
In Orlando, David Akom was among two dozen families that got Layaway Angel surprises at a Wal-Mart.
"She scanned it and said, 'It's paid off.' which I, of course, was dumbfounded with," said Akom. "That's impossible. She pointed to the screen and blew everyone's mind. It said, 'Paid off by good Samaritan.'"
Sherry Salamone saw a couple in need at the checkout.
"They didn't have enough money, I told the cashier, I'll make up the difference," said Salamone.
They protested, but then let her pay their shortfall.
"Years ago, my husband and I were out of work and it was hard to get help, so we've been there, done that," said Salamone. "We're not rich, but you gotta share."
Surprises come every day at the Brandon K-Mart and are a real boost for everyone in the store.
"It happens almost daily," said Peoples. "That must make your day," we said. "It does, it really does!," she said gushing.
Even Toys 'R Us said some anonymous good Samaritans have been paying off layaway orders for total strangers at many of their stores. K-Mart now even has a spot on their website dedicated to these angels, where you can check the tallies at locations all over the country.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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