angel-ornament.jpgAnonymous “Layaway Angels” have embraced the essence of the holiday spirit by secretly paying off layaway balances at Sears’ stores.

The benefactors first appeared at a store in Claremont, Calif., where they elected to pay outstanding balances totaling more than $1,000 for customers who had set aside necessities such as children’s shoes, socks, underwear, other clothing and toys. The “Layaway Angels,” named by a Sears store manager, wished to remain anonymous, but the couple wrote a note to each recipient that read; “Believe in miracles and have faith — your Christmas Angel.”

Claremont’s Layaway Angels have even inspired copycat “Angels” to emerge in other parts of the country, as anonymous donors have stepped up in El Centro, Escondido and Chula Vista, Calif., Sears stores to pay the remaining layaway bills of those they thought might be in similar situations.

“We are touched that these ‘Layaway Angels’ would find it in their hearts to give back anonymously. They are a wonderful example of charitable giving and what the holiday season should be about,” said Don Hamblen, Sears’ chief marketing officer. “We hope that the kindness of these strangers continues to spread into the New Year, inspiring others to help out this holiday.”

The Claremont store manager heard an outpouring of relieved responses from families when he called the layaway customers to let them know their balance had been paid. One customer shared that his house was in foreclosure and this was “the best present imaginable.” Another father, who came in with his wife and five young children, to pay his balance was overwhelmed and in tears.

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