I think this is a jolly good idea, and that any of us with a few extra dollars in our pockets should think seriously about spreading a little cheer.
This is something that had never crossed my mind until my wife – Gina the Gorgeous – told me about it yesterday evening.
Over the last couple of years, a number of stores – like Walmart, for example – have resurrected the concept of "layaway." The idea is that you can put down a small deposit on an item and ask the store to hold it for you, then you can make small payments over several weeks or months until you've paid off the account, at which point the goods are yours.
Times are hard for a lot of people these days. Things can become especially difficult during a holiday like Christmas, because many parents find it difficult to find the money to buy presents for their kids.
I don't know about you, but it breaks my heart to think of a kid not finding at least one small present on Christmas Day. It also breaks my heart to think of the anguish felt by a parent who cannot afford to buy that present.
So when Gina told me about the concept of “Layaway Santas” (also knows as “Secret Santas” and “Layaway Angels”), I thought "That is a WONDERFUL idea!"
The idea is that these good Samaritans drop in to the store and anonymously pay down (or even pay off) other people's remaining layaway balances.
Of course the store won't give you any specific details regarding their customers. However, my understanding is that if you explain what you want to do, they will work with you. For example, you could ask them to look for accounts that are predominantly for young kids' toys – maybe just a couple of toys and for which the owner of the account has been making small payments of a few dollars here and there – and you could make the final payment.
Can you imagine the feeling of such a parent when they come in to make their next payment – perhaps wondering if they are going to be able to pay the whole thing off by Christmas – when they discover that the account is paid in full and now they can spend their money on food or heating or rent?
No one will ever know what you've done – except you – but it really is true that it feels better to give than to receive. All I can say is that I know what I'm going to be doing each weekend leading up to Christmas.
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