The first Secret Santa, Nesser said, was waiting in the checkout line and noticed someone putting items on layaway.
The donor came back to the store later that day and asked if the layaway account could be paid in full.
“The Secret Santa didn’t know the person other than seeing her in the store,” Nesser said. “The layaway was about $200 and the items included four bags of toys.”
Another Secret Santa called Alco’s corporate office Thursday wanting to pay off several layaways.
“This person paid off 10 layaways,” she said, “for a total of about $1,000.”
The third donor was one of the recipients, but Nesser said the person wanted to “pay it forward,” Nesser said.
The person was already prepared to pay the layaway account in full, and decided to use the money to help someone else.
The fourth individual came into the store Friday to pay off a layaway and, the fifth person, Nesser said, paid one layaway account because she said, “It was something God placed in her heart.”
For Nesser, the job of seeing both sides was the best present she said she could ever want.
“I wouldn’t even mind not getting anything for Christmas this year,” she said. “Just hearing the joy in their voices was the best present.”
Anyone who has worked in retail during Christmas time, Nesser said, knows how much stress, struggle and exertion goes on.
But, to see something like this from Secret Santas in the midst of the chaos has a calming effect, she said.
“People get so happy when they were told their layaway was paid,” she said. “A couple of people were crying over the phone.”
One person with a layaway account was in the store Friday and Nesser said she wanted to talk about the account.
“This person said they couldn’t pay it off yet and apologized for not having the money,” she said. “I was able to say, ‘Well guess what? It has actually been paid off.’”
The person was so happy that Nesser said the recipient started crying in the store.
“With everything going down economic-wise and people losing jobs, there’s still more volunteers, more donating and more giving out for toys and layaways,” she said.
All of the recipients said they wanted to thank those people who helped them.
One person, Nesser said, told her that she wouldn’t have been able to get her layaway items until after Christmas.
“For many of these people, it could have been a very sad situation,” she said.