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Families Are 'Touched By an Angel' At Kmart on Tilghman

From California to Pennsylvania, anonymous benefactors are heading to Kmart stores, picking families at random and paying off their layaway balances.

The wave of generosity started about five days ago.

Anonymous benefactors began stopping into the in South Whitehall and paying off the layaway balances of families picked at random, said Nichol Drozd, the store's assistant manager.

On Monday, a woman paid off four layaways at the store, for a total of $600, Drozd said. The woman was among at least 10 people who paid off store layaways that included children's winter boots, games and children's clothing, putting down at least $1,500. More than 10 families have been helped. 

"It is very touching," said Drozd, who then had the joy of calling the familes who had been "touched by an angel." 

The response? "First, they're in shock," she said. "Then they end up in tears."

The "angels" at the Kmart in South Whitehall are the latest examples of a trend being seen across the country.

The trend . Patch first reported on layaway angels on Dec. 16.  In recent days, stories of anonymous layaway payoffs have been reported from South Carolina to Iowa and Wisconsin to California. The epidemic of giving is also cheering families in .

In the Lehigh Valley, layaway angels have also been busy in .

"It's been an organic development," Shannell Armstrong, a spokeswoman for Sears Holdings Corp., which owns Kmart, . "We don't promote it. We're just trying to keep up with the reports that keep coming in."

Those reports have been increasing daily.

"This is just so heart-warming for these families during the holidays," Drozd said.

The woman who stopped at the Kmart on Tilghman Street on Monday and paid off four layaways told Drozd she just wanted the families to have "a very Merry Christmas." Drozd said many of the benefactors, who range in age, say they hope the families will "pay it forward," meaning that someday they choose to repay the good deed by doing something good for someone else.

Drozd said the layaways paid off have included delinquent accounts, in which the items were close to being put back on store shelves. 

She said the families helped will often thank her.

"It's not us," she tells them. "It's these angels coming in. We just get to be the messenger."

Carmella Obst December 20, 2011 at 12:46 PM
Now, that's in keeping with the true spirit of the season---the true spirit of gift-giving. That's what it's all about. It just takes one kind soul to get the ball rolling---and now it is taking off in a very positive way. Very inspirational!
Ann Wlazelek December 20, 2011 at 12:58 PM
Even if K-mart/Sears is behind this to increase traffic to their stores, it's wonderful for the families helped. Nice to hear. Thanks Mary Ellen for bringing us this story.
D. Wag December 20, 2011 at 08:48 PM
A wonderful gesture. However...it seems sad that Kmart indirectly becomes the benefactor of this goodwill, not the samaritain. Now...if Kmart wants to parlay this into a great marketing feat, they should offer to "MATCH' whatever the annonomous donor gives!!

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