Christmas came early for 23 families in Atlanta Monday after a church paid off $10,000 worth of merchandise they had on layaway at a local Walmart.
The Rev. Kevin Murriel, senior pastor of Cascade United Methodist Church, told the gathering of families at the Walmart on Research Center Drive that his congregation was feeling “blessed to be a blessing” and he believes “everyone deserves a good Christmas.”
“We are here at Walmart today because we have been called by God to be here. And we want to be a blessing to those in our community, and that’s all of you,” he said in a Facebook Live recording of the announcement.
“One of the things that we wanted to do, that we believe that God has called us to do, was to pay off the entire balances of all of your layaways for Christmas, and so that’s why you’re here,” he said as the gathering applauded.
“We believe that we are blessed to be a blessing to others. That is why we are doing this. ... We aren’t asking you for anything, all we ask is that at some point in your life you pay it forward. That you would bless someone else, that we’re all blessed to be a blessing,” Murriel said. “Everyone deserves a good Christmas. Don’t y’all believe that?”
The merchandise set to be wrapped as gifts for the holidays include bicycles, a punching bag, doll houses, strollers and other toys, news station WGCL-TV CBS 46 reported, noting that some of the families were uncertain whether they would have been able to pay off the cost of the items.
“It's great for the kids. I'm so thankful for it. It was a call from God," Maria, a mother of three who considered putting her items back before receiving a call from the superstore about the gifts, told CBS46. "It's going to be amazing seeing their faces. Thank you so much for this."
One woman with tear-filled eyes added: "It feels wonderful, I thank God for these people and this church.”
Congregation member Carolyn Byrd said she felt blessed to have been able to be a part of the moment.
"It warms my heart. We live in this community and we really try to be a light in this community," she said. "This is just another way we can do some outreach to people and let them know we want to be a blessing. Especially those who can least afford to do for the ones they love. This is congregation money well spent."
Murriel further noted: "God has blessed us so we want to be a blessing to other people during this holiday season. These are donations from our congregation. Our motto is that we are a light in our community, so what better way to be a light in our community."
While the gifts were no strings attached, the congregation also took the opportunity to invite the families to church.