By Jennifer Richardson
On Wednesday December 10, 2014 a woman quietly walked into a Toys ‘R Us store in Bellingham, Massachusetts. She told the store associate behind the layaway counter she was there to pay off some layaway accounts.
When questioned as to which accounts she planned to pay off, she simply said, all of them.
In all, she paid off 154 layaway plans for a grand total of more than $20,000 worth of holiday gifts. She was dubbed the “layaway angel” and she joins a growing list of generous strangers who have been angels in shops across our country.
In conjunction with partner organizations, former Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow has also been an angel by paying off layaway plans for surprised shoppers before Christmas. In 2018, filmmaker and comedian Tyler Perry cleared the Walmart layaway accounts of 1,500 Atlanta-area shoppers for a total of $434,000. Walmart reports that thousands of their Christmas accounts are paid for by strangers each year.
Even in 2020 angels are still among us. On December 3rd of this year an employee at a Minnesota Dairy Queen observed one customer in the drive through offer to pay for the next customer’s order. The pleased recipient, in turn, covered the cost for the next customer in line.
To the surprise and delight of the Dairy Queen staff members, the line of pay-it-forward kindness lasted all day. The manager of the DQ announced via their facebook page that donations had been made to keep the kindness going as of opening the next day. To their stunned delight, the string of kindness stretched through three full days, impacted more than 900 customers, and covered more than $10,000 in orders.
It warms my heart to know that there are still people in our world that place such a high value on giving, especially during a time of year that can be very focused on receiving.
It is my hope that everyone will experience a giving angel that appears to help in your moment of need. I know I have. I can remember an angel giving me a Christmas gift of money many years ago, it was not a terribly large amount, but it was truly needed at the time.
I was so grateful, and I mentioned to my generous friend that I would pay him back one day when I could. He looked at me kindly and said, if you want to repay me, just pass this kindness on to someone else when they have a need.
Just be an angel in someone else’s life someday, he said.
He did not want repayment in the literal sense. He was wise enough to know that humanity would be better served for me to understand that kindness should not be an isolated event; it should inspire other moments of kindness.
Each gentle strand of kindness connects with another until a strong framework is created. When we keep the threads of kindness moving toward each other, this patchwork frame fills in to become a strong cloth. This angelic fabric warms us, protects us, holds us together, and brings vibrant color to our lives.
My youngest daughter walked into our home recently and mentioned that she had paid for the person behind her in the checkout line that day. I was so proud to hear that she had been an angel. Spreading kindness is not a matter of proportion, but of principle; perhaps we are not able to pay thousands of dollars for hundreds of gifts this year, but we can all find a way to be an angel for someone this Christmas.