In case all of the news about the down economy has turned your heart sour, get ready for it to be sweetened right back up again. Kmarts all over the country have been reporting anonymous accounts of random good samaritans calling in and paying off the balance of less-fortunate people’s layaway tabs.
The Associated Press reports that the first of these random acts of kindness happened in a Kmart in Michigan, and has since spread to stores in Nebraska, Iowa, Indiana and Montana. People (ostensibly people who are of means, or who just have a little more to give this year than others) call in and ask to help families that have presents on hold for kids, then pay off the lion’s share of the balance so that when a family comes to make a payment, only a few dollars stand between them and a holiday season full of presents.
For the most part, the donors have been anonymous and called into stores to help make the gift-giving a little easier. But one recently widowed woman went on a donation spree as she made her way through the an Kmart in Indianapolis. She started in line at the layaway department, where she told a father of three that she’d be paying for the toys he had on layaway. And she didn’t stop there.
Before she left the store Tuesday evening, the Indianapolis woman in her mid-40s had paid the layaway orders for as many as 50 people. On the way out, she handed out $50 bills and paid for two carts of toys for a woman in line at the cash register.
“She was doing it in the memory of her husband who had just died, and she said she wasn’t going to be able to spend it and wanted to make people happy with it,” said Edna Deppe, the store’s assistant manager. The woman did not identify herself and only asked people to “remember Ben,” an apparent reference to her husband.
It’s a heartwarming story, but there are still a few days left before the season of giving gets started in full. So we have to ask: would you pay for someone else’s gifts if you could?