Secret Santa picks up tab on strangers' layaways

11:27 PM, Dec 9, 2011   |    comments
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(NBC News)

GRAND RAPIDS, MI (NBC) -- Christmas came early for three people in Michigan this week when a perfect stranger picked up the tab on some presents.

Mary Chapin put some toys on layaway for her son David yesterday afternoon. She was hoping to pay off the $200 balance the week before Christmas. Then she got a call that changed all that.

"They said that someone had paid $180 on my layaway and there was only $10 left," Chapin said. "I thought it was a joke!"

A complete stranger -- described only as a woman in her thirties had taken care of the balance. She didn't leave her name and didn't want a thank you. The only writing on the receipt - "Happy Holidays from a friend."

"It's the best gift that I ever received and it's the gift of believing in people and believing that there's good out there cause you don't always see that," Chapin said.

"It's like bringing hope back," said Dannell Goddard of Kmart.

Goddard met the mystery woman at the layaway desk that night.

"It was really crazy, the way she did it," Goddard said. "She was so excited and so happy to do it."

And out of about 800 layaway orders, the woman picked three random tickets, and ended up spending about $500. Her only requirement? That toys were in the order.

"She had a great heart and I told her that I felt like she had a great heart and she said she doesn't want to take appreciation for it," Goddard said. "She just felt that she was blessed and she wanted to bless others."

Chapin has her own name for her family's Secret Santa who gave them a far bigger gift than the toys themselves.

"An angel for us," she said. "Even though we're all in the same boat, nobody's thinking about anyone else. It's every man for himself and to have somebody come along behind and just do something that's totally unnecessary but so appreciated, it just really made a difference."

After this story aired in Grand Rapids, Michigan, someone else went to that Kmart and spent $2,000 to pay for 13 other layaways.

(NBC News)

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