“Layaway Angels” seem to be coming out of the weeds this season to reignite our holiday spirit. Especially at Walmart.
First, Fortune reported that one mysterious donor in Northeast Ohio paid off over $100,000 worth of layaways at two Walmart (WMT) locations, helping more than 200 customers celebrate Christmas. Then we began to notice this trend popping up in various cities.
An anonymous businessman, known only as “Santa B.” (rather than the more familiar “Santa C.”), contributed a total of $158,000 to two Walmart stores in Pennsylvania. ABC 27 reported a $79,000 donation to a Harrisburg location, and KUTV reports the same amount was donated to a Walmart in Mechanicsburg.
“He just said he wants to give back to neighbors and it’s just a way of showing appreciation, taking care of the community,” Steven Myers, manager of the Mechanicsburg store, told the news station. “He had those rosy cheeks and he had the white beard, so I’m going to say Santa is real.”
One or two of Santa’s real-life helpers also showed up in Florida. WCJB reported that two Walmart locations, Lake City and Chiefland, each received a donation of $100,000 to pay off customers’ layaway accounts.
Not all of these gifts come in such large quantities. PayAwayTheLayaway.org, founded by Lee Karchawer in 2011, spreads awareness of the “Layaway Angel” movement. The organization works with big-name retailers Burlington Coat Factory, Kmart, Toys “R” Us, and (the common denominator here) Walmart to help families in need during the holiday season. Karchawer tells Fortune donations are expected to break $100,000 this year, a significant increase from last year’s $60,000, with contributions averaging at just $30.