‘Layaway angels’ help families with holiday purchasesThe holiday season of giving is getting off to an early start at one Jamestown retailer.
By: By Keith Norman, The Jamestown Sun, The Jamestown Sun
The holiday season of giving is getting off to an early start at one Jamestown retailer.
Joni Dalke, store manager at the Jamestown Kmart, said the “layaway angels” that helped make Christmas a happy event for some families last year are coming back this holiday season.
“The gentleman who kicked it off last year has contacted us and wants to kick it off this year,” she said. “It is strangers helping strangers.”
Customers can purchase items on layaway. This means they make an initial payment and then pay more money on the purchase over time. Once the item is paid in full they can take it home.
But if a layaway angel comes along they provide money that is used to pay for the items allowing the customer to get the item sooner and at less cost.
“People bring in the money and we choose who it helps,” Dalke said. “We always seem to choose kids.”
Customers often get emotional when they learn their purchases are paid for — and it also affects the staff.
“We took to having boxes of tissues in layaway because there were so many tears,” she said. “It wasn’t always customers.”
Dalke estimated that about $5,000 was donated by layaway angels last year. All requested to remain anonymous. In addition, the Kmart company is paying off one layaway account per store through Thanksgiving.
Last year, as of Dec. 23, 2011, 18 layaway accounts had been paid by the angels. This year, Dalke is hoping that the giving mood starts earlier and helps out more people this holiday.
“This is the generosity of customers,” she said. “It is people happy to see someone’s Christmas made special.”
Anyone wishing to don their halo and wings and make a donation can call Dalke or Eric Engebretson, store assistant manager at 251-1111.
Managers at the Jamestown Walmart would not comment on its layaway program.
Sun reporter Keith Norman can be reached at 701-952-8452 or by email at email@example.com