Anonymous patrons in Michigan have started the “Secret Santas” movement by donating towards K-Mart customers’ layaway accounts, allowing them to bring home gifts in time for Christmas.
The “Secret Santas” have nothing to do with a portly man in a red suit sliding down chimneys to give gifts and snack on milk and cookies in return. The Secret Santa refers to everyday people who give to complete strangers and people they will probably never meet.
The movement started last Monday at a K-Mart in Grand Rapids, Mich. when a woman randomly paid three layaway counts out of 800.
A K-mart employee told WOOD-TV that a woman came up and asked if she could pay off some people’s layaway. The woman, who remained anonymous, told the clerk that she just wanted to help people.
The woman asked that the layaway orders include toys and items for children, before paying about $500 on the accounts, leaving a balance of $10 for each ticket.
She only left behind a note on the receipt saying, “Happy Holiday, from a friend”.
One of the customers whose layaway ticket was paid off said she originally thought it was a joke, according to The Consumerist.
“They said that someone had paid $180 on my layaway and there was only $10 left,” the customer said. “I thank her. It’s the best gift that I ever received, and that’s the gift of believing in people…and believing that there’s good out there, ‘cause you don’t see that.”
People began to see a lot more of it in the following days.
The next day, someone put $2,000 towards 14 layaway accounts. The same K-Mart store then had a secret Santa donate $150 to $300 every day since.
Stories of similar donations have been reported in other places, like California.
The K-Mart store manager, who has never seen donations like this, says these deeds are really terrific and encourages everyone, according to the Detroit News.
Most of the layaway accounts that were paid off included items for children, according to WOOD-TV.
Roberta Carter is another customer that had her layaway paid off. She told WOOD-TV that the Secret Santas generosity will mean her eight kids will have warm clothes to unwrap on Christmas.
"I know that they've helped a lot of families and today it’s really hard, you know. We have eight kids and it's a struggle. And it's a blessing for all the families that they've helped. So I'd like to just say thank you,” Carter said. "It was truly amazing. It was a blessing. It was unexpected, truly, so we were really, really blessed."