The Christmas spirit has come early for some people this year—in the form of a kindhearted stranger who has been paying off their layaways at a Vermont Walmart.
The mystery benefactor has so far only given a festive name to dozens of lucky shoppers: “Kris Kringle.”
The only clue to his identity is a photograph taken by a very grateful mother at the store, showing him walking away wearing a Patriots jacket.
Julie Gates was waiting in line at the Walmart store in Derby, Vermont, to pick up a SIM card on Nov. 15, when she noticed the line was unusually long.
“I heard people ahead of me saying that someone was paying for everyone’s layaways.”
“The man asked if I was putting anything on layaway and I told him that I was but first needed to pick up my package,” she wrote on her Facebook page.
He told her to hurry and grab some stuff for her son and come back.
“I grabbed some toys for him for Christmas and came back to customer service where the man was standing waiting for me and said just go to the checkout and he’d be right over to pay.”
He paid the total of $199 off with his card. She described the experience as “amazing.”
‘He Paid Them All’
She was only one of dozens of customers to have their layaway paid off, according to local media reports.
His identity is unknown.
“The only picture I got was of him walking away,” wrote Gates. “Anyone that had a layaway at the Derby Walmart should call and check. I think he paid them all! I just wanted to say thank you again to this mystery man!”
But while Gates was able to meet him in person, some customers got their early Christmas gift via email.
Liz Peart had been agonizing over whether to cancel her order as bills pushed her finances to the limit, when she got a surprise email from the store, saying nearly $500 of items had been paid off in full.
“It was coming down to whether I could make the car payment, the rent payment, or buy Christmas presents, so I chose to pay my bills and I didn’t know if we were going to have enough money to pick up the layaway,” she told NBC.
She said that paying off her layaway had given her family Christmas.
Her uncle, Bruce Blair also had his gifts paid for. He told NBC he had met the man face-to-face in the store.
“I just shook his hand and said thank you and hoped he’d have a merry Christmas,” Blair said.
Walmart has confirmed that some customers layaways were paid off by the man, but declined to give numbers.
According to NBC, Walmart said in a statement, “When customers quietly pay off others’ layaway items, we’re reminded how good people can be. We’re honored to be a small part of these random acts of kindness.”
According to CNN, Gates said he picked up an $800 tab for one couple.
Walmart’s Christmas layaway scheme has been running since August.