Layaway donor gives ‘miracle’ gift

  • Layaway donor gives ‘miracle’ gift
    Layaway donor gives ‘miracle’ gift

He arrived at the Walmart layaway desk with no warning. He made the donation anonymously.
And in true Saint Nick fashion, he disappeared as quickly as he had arrived, leaving the holidays a little brighter in his wake.
“It was a Christmas miracle,” said store manager Sherry Neal of the sudden mystery donation that covered the cost of all items on layaway at the Dahlonega store. “It was really unexpected for everyone. Even us.”
As the Walmart workers made payment after payment, news quickly spread around town, and through Facebook, that all holiday layaway shoppers were covered by the unexpected gift.
And Kay Smallwood was one of them.
But, at first, the hardworking pre-med student and local mother of three couldn’t quite believe it.
“I thought maybe it wasn’t everybody,” she said. “But I just walked in and [the cashier] pulled up my layaway and she said ‘You have a zero balance.’”
Smallwood’s eight-year-old daughter stood beside her, wide-eyed and overjoyed.
“She was extremely excited,” she said. “She understood that someone had done that for her.”
Walmart officials declined to release the exact amount of the layaway donation but Smallwood said she was told it was over $10,000.
As a result the layaway counter has been a site of much Christmas joy over the past few days.
Shock, awe, tears, laughter and hugs have become a common scene at the superstore.
“You can just imagine,” said Neal. “The people are coming in to pick up their layaway and pay it off. And we just tell them that a Good Samaritan has paid it all off for them.”
Like Smallwood, Sarah Renee didn’t believe it at first.
Initially the local single mother thought there had to have been some kind of computer error.
“I had received an email thanking me for my layaway payment,” she said. “Because I hadn't made a payment since last weekend I thought it was maybe a name mix up and someone had made a mistake.”
She arrived at the desk to find several employees shocked and “speechless.”
“They were working hard to close all the accounts as paid off,” she said. “I was informed that it wasn't a mistake and that a Good Samaritan had just been there to pay off all the accounts.”
For many recipients this was a donation that will reverberate beyond the holiday season.
“Needless to say this man was a blessing to so many,” said Renee. “Truly a Godsend.”
So who is the mystery donor?
The rumors are rampant with some speculating he’s a solo philanthropist, others assuming he’s a representative of a bigger group of donors and still some coyly suspecting he has ties to the North Pole.
As for Neal, she said that the man insisted on anonymity and she plans to honor that.
Still Walmart is offering the chance for the community to express their gratitude through thank you cards. They are hoping for a lot them.
“They can bring them by here and we’ll make sure the person gets it,” Neal said.
Meanwhile, just in case the donor happens to be reading this very article, Smallwood had a message to relay.
“Just thank you,” she said with a laugh. “A million times thank you. And Merry Christmas.”