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Will Layaway Angels Return This Holiday Season?

Last year, "layaway angels" brought generosity and surprise to shoppers across the Lehigh Valley

Will a new wave a "layaway angels" hit stores this holiday shopping season?

In 2011, a trend of anonymous shoppers paying off lawaways for strangers made headlines across the United States and in the Lehigh Valley.

Layaway angels in Bethlehem last year.

Tell us if you hear any reports of layaway angels in the Lehigh Valley. Send e-mail to susan.koomar@patch.com.

Store managers chose layaways that were delinquent and that included children's toys, figuring the layaway angels would have the biggest impact by covering those purchases.

Managers then called the layaway customers to inform them of their good fortune.

The wave of generosity hit the Tilghman Street store in South Whitehall and a store in Quakertown, where a layaway angel gave $500 to help strangers with their purchases.

The trend may have started in Michigan in 2011. Patch first reported on layaway angels on December 16.  In recent days, stories of anonymous layaway payoffs have been reported from South Carolina toIowa and Wisconsin to California. The epidemic of giving also cheeered families in New Jersey.

Reports also came from several Walmart stores but more instances may have happened at Kmart because it is one of the few large discount stores that has offered layaway year-round for about 40 years. 

Both Walmart and Kmart waived their layaway fee until Nov. 17 this year.

Gerry Kranz November 25, 2012 at 03:01 PM
they should not return. It was a genuine surprise to people that needed it last year, but, with all of the publicity, there will be those dishonest and unscrupulous people that will now put items on layaway hoping that they will hit the lottery with someone paying for their stuff. This may seem very cynical, but this is exactly how the dishonest think. They only take a small risk by putting money down on the layaway.
Ben Miller November 25, 2012 at 05:49 PM
I think you're exactly right, Gerry, and I suspect at least a few of the major "Layaway Angels" from the Bethlehem store are thinking the same thing. It's a dilemma, because there is a balance between wanting to help those who genuinely need it and not wanting to be exploited by those who don't. Some people have the philosophy of "I want to give in a way that helps those in need, but if someone cheats the system, then shame on them. It doesn't take away from original philanthropic intentions."
Kathy November 25, 2012 at 09:49 PM
What Ben and Gerry said.
Awrinka Zerick November 26, 2012 at 11:42 AM
But usually the people who cheat dont feel shame.
tamarya November 27, 2012 at 01:13 AM
Sadly you are all telling the truth of probably what will happen. They should make that you pay at least half of what is on layaway and if you back out of taking the purchases you pay a fee, and if you don't have the money up front the store gets your info and turns it into a collection agency to hound you for it. I have not used layaway, but even working in retail 15 yrs ago and seeing how people were then, I could see someone putting a 1,000 dollars worth of stuff on layaway and only pay the small percentage to put it on hold and expect someone to feel sorry for them and cover the rest.
tamarya November 27, 2012 at 01:14 AM
Heck look at even toys for tots, you can get your kids nicer presents and not pay for them than the kids who have parents that pay for their gifts.
Coral noye December 03, 2012 at 10:33 PM
I'm a single mother of 2 little girls. I work graveyard shift at the post office here in costa Mesa, California so I can take car of my girls during the day. This was my first year ever using a layaway system at Kmart and when I went to pay off my 95 dollar balance on Saturday I was touched by the SECRET layaway angel and my balance was paid off. It was completely anonymous aside from a board I could write on to thank whoever had paid it off. It was a blessing to me and my girls.
Al Fundo December 03, 2012 at 11:11 PM
wow, what is it to you people whether someone wishes to donate to help off the less fortunate? Obviously none of you are playing the part of a layaway santa so why be so negative? Congrats Coral noye! I imagine your holiday will be that much more brighter now.
tamarya December 03, 2012 at 11:29 PM
No one is saying anything about the people willing to help the less fortunate, we are saying about the ones not less fortunate taking advantage of the caring people willing to help.
Al Fundo December 03, 2012 at 11:38 PM
The first three agree "that they should not return"...

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