?Secret Santas? pay off Alco layaways for local families



Santa Claus had help on Christmas when two anonymous donors, each unbeknown to the other, paid off all the layaway accounts at the Hillsboro Alco store before Dec. 25.

Robert Strong, the store?s general manager, said the benefactors paid off the accounts with cash and each had specific requests.

Secret Santas

?The first family wanted to help people with kids,? he said. ?They asked if we had any layaways that I thought had toys or other gifts meant for children.?

Once the Secret Santa family was provided information about the layaways, without Strong disclosing any customer names, they chose about 15 accounts to pay off, he said.

?We are talking in the hundreds of dollars,? he said.


A majority of layaway items they paid off during the first week of December included cars, trucks, dolls, clothes, educational toys and other items for toddlers.

Strong said the parents were in their early 40s and had young children and teenagers with them.

?I think (the parents) wanted their children to experience paying it forward,? he said.

Not long after the first family approached Strong, he was visited by a second man with similar intentions.

?I believe it was just coincidence when the gentleman asked to speak with me and asked if there were any layaways we had for Christmas,? Strong said. ?I told him this is the time of the year we always have layaways.?

The anonymous man, Strong said, wanted to pay off all the layaways and requested a pay out amount.

?Again keeping everything confidential,? Strong said, ?the gentleman looked over the layaway items and said: ?I will pay them all off.??

According to Strong, between 15 and 20 accounts were paid off.

?It would be fair to say (the payoff) was in the hundreds approaching into the thousands of dollars,? he said.

Calling customers

After the layaway items were paid, Strong said he contacted all the affected customers.

?I told them, congratulations, there has been a Secret Santa that approached us and paid off your layaway,? he said.

Most of the people were grateful for the unexpected gift, he said. Some customers asked if they could have the name of their benefactor to write a thank-you card.

?It really touched them,? he said. ?It was a very powerful time to interact with people on the phone and then for them to come in (and pick up their items). This is so great.?

Strong said he encouraged each customer to pay this kindness forward.

?I said that someone helped you out and maybe there is someone you can help,? he said. ?Just look for opportunities to help somebody. Maybe something as small as holding a door open.?


The family who paid off layaways involving children, Strong said, told him they were wanting to take care of people in the community.

?They told me: ?If you are able to help someone out, pay it forward.??

The second Secret Santa said he was able to help and was grateful for what had been given to him.

Strong said he didn?t believe this was something the benefactors had done before.

Strong said he called his boss to let her know what happened.

?She said to me: ?Wow! That is wonderful that someone is willing to do that.??

Strong said it affected him, too.

?I am from Kansas City, Mo.,? he said, ?and it?s a different mind-set in a big city.

?For me, it was good to see, feel and be part of a community and people that really focus on helping others and passing it on.?

The advantage of staying anonymous, he said, is that people receiving the help are more willing to accept it because their gifts were from ?Santa.?

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