Some customers are following a new Christmas trend of paying off others' layaway bills. It happened today at the , and the holiday goodwill has spread to the Kmart in White Lake Township at 10951 Highland Road.
Store Manager Nancy Fontaine said two customers have helped others by paying off their layaway bills at the store. This year is the first time Fontaine has seen this.
"This is just wonderful," she said. "Things are tight in the economy."
The first time was about a week and a half ago, when a customer paid $200 to pay off someone else's layaway bill. And, on Friday, another great White Lake Kmart customer gave $25 to pay off someone's layaway. She had heard about the giving on the TV news the night before, Fontaine said.
Bloomfield-Bloomfield Hills Patch reported the same thing happened in the Bloomfield Township Kmart. Kmart Assistant Manager Yvonne Messink, who has worked 27 years with the company, thought she had seen it all.
But when a customer on Thursday was adamant that she make layaway payments on behalf of a needy family for the holidays, she didn't realize it was happening across the country.
"I initially was going to encourage her to support our St. Jude campaign, but she said 'no,' and that she wanted to help a family with toys or clothing on layaway for the holiday," Messink said this morning. "It's never happened before."
The donor has asked to remain anonymous to this point and final details are expected to be worked out later today, Messink said.
Her district manager indicated it was happening in stores around the nation.
The Detroit Free Press reported today that anonymous donors are paying off strangers' layaway accounts and buying the Christmas gifts other families couldn't afford, especially toys and children's clothes.
The difficult part for Messink and the staff now is to determine which layaway customers have the most need, which is not a requirement for Kmart's longstanding layaway policy. She encouraged any others interesting in donating to come with a name or support Kmart's ongoing campaign with St. Jude Children's Research Hospital through Jan 1.