Christmas came early for several Walmart customers in Vermont after a secret Santa paid for their layaway items on Thursday.
Julie Gates said that her visit to the Walmart in Derby, Vermont was one of holiday lore when a mystery man paid for her and multiple other customers' layaway payments.
"I don't even think I can find the words to say," the nearly-speechless Gates told CBS station WCAX-TV. She said she overheard a man tell another man that he was going to clear his bill.
"Either I am going to pay for it now or I am going to pay for it later," the mystery man said, according to Gates.
The stranger then turned to Gates and asked if she was paying for an item on layaway. "Why don't you run and get what you want now and come back here?" he asked her.
She was skeptical, but because she was there putting items on layaway in the first place, she fetched a few more items as the man was "standing there waiting."
When she returned, the man paid for everyone's layaway on the spot.
"Who can afford to pay for everyone's layaway?" Gates asked the man, who said that fairy-tales can sometimes come true.
"Santa Claus can," he replied.
Tammy Desautels said she, too, was a beneficiary of the Good Samaritan's generosity, leaving Walmart that day without owing anything.
"It was kind of like surreal when they said no balance due, then it was really a reality," she told WCAX.
"I really have a feeling that there is hope for mankind or whatever — there are still good people out there," Desautels said.
Not only did the secret Santa pay off the bills of those present at the store that day — he paid for every single layaway item at the store. WCAX reports that Saturday, the layaway storage room was filled floor to ceiling with items — all paid for.
"I thought it was a rumor," said Sandra Cortez, who went to the store to find her items paid off.
Walmart did not provide a total amount that the man spent on the lucky customers, nor could it say how many people went home with free gifts.
"There were people ahead of me who were eight, nine-hundred dollar layaways," Gates said.
The only photo of the man was taken as he walked away, as he didn't want to be recognized for his good deed.0comments
"I want to thank him," Cortez said.
"I get goosebumps thinking that — that is the true magic of Christmas, that's the Christmas spirit walking among us," Gates said.