A secret army of Kmart shoppers have been anonymously donating toward their fellow customers’ layaway balances since the start of the holiday season.
William Thomas, store manager for the Moorestown Kmart, said about three to five of these “layaway angels” have been coming in every day for the past few weeks.
The phenomenon has been happening at Kmart stores across the country, as far away as California. Reports suggest it began in the Midwest.
Thomas said of the donations: “This is not a program that we started, but something we’re allowing people to do.”
Kmart’s layaway program allows customers to put a down payment on a product or products—either 10 percent or $15, whichever’s higher, Thomas said—and have the items held for them until it’s paid off (up to 12 weeks).
Sometimes the balances are significant, as are the angel donations.
“I’ve seen some (donations) for $200, some for $500 or $600,” Thomas said. “People buying toys are what most of the angels are paying for.”
He said the angels don’t identify themselves, but in some cases have asked the store to call the customer at home to let them know a donation was made toward their layaway. Sometimes the customers are shopping in the store when they’re notified.
“The people are very excited and appreciative of the contributions these people are making to their layaway,” Thomas said. “In these tough economic times, they say it’s nice to have someone be helpful and who wants to make a better Christmas for their children.”
Those who are interested in being a layaway angel should seek out a member of management or an associate when they enter the store, said Thomas, and the employee will help them through the process of donating.
Kmart is located at 401 Route 38 West, across from PJ Whelihan's. For more information, call 856-234-8450.