A pair of generous "Secret Santas" walked into a Toys R Us in South Portland, Maine to spread some holiday cheer to the tune of $10,000.
Store manager Jay Roes tells CBS, "A nice couple, local, want to be anonymous came in and wanted to pay off $10,000 in people's layaways."
He says that this money paid off the balances on approximately 100 accounts.
Layaway programs allow consumers who are unable to afford an item upfront to pay a deposit and then make periodic payments towards the full price without paying interest like they would with a credit card. Thousands of American families rely on these programs to make purchases this time of year, and Deloitte estimates that over 13 percent of shoppers will take advantage of layaway programs this holiday season.
Layaway payment policies vary by store and state, but at Toys R Us locations in Maine, shoppers pay a $5 service fee and must provide a deposit of at least 10 percent of the total price of their order to participate.
According to the Toys R Us corporate website, shoppers may make additional payments at any time but must pay a minimum of 10 percent of the cost of the order every two weeks. If the order is not paid off within 90 days or before the end of the holiday layaway season, whichever comes first, shoppers forfeit the order and the service fee.
But thanks to the anonymous do-gooders, many families will not need to worry about keeping up with these payments, and Roes says getting to tell customers that their balances have been paid has been a boost for his staff, too.
He remembers one particularly thankful customer who had her layaway balance paid off. "My cashier was able to let her know that she didn't have a balance due and she could pick up her stuff. It took her a minute to understand what happened and she cried at the front of my store," he said.
Managers at the South Portland Toys R Us say that the remaining balance on all of the layaway accounts is around $25,000, and that the Secret Santa couple intends to match donations made by others.
"That is amazing. That is the true Christmas spirit for sure," said one customer when she heard the story. "Every kid should have presents for Christmas."
Another shopper said, "It makes you think that there are still nice people out there that do things for others."
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