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Layaway angels pay off others toy tabs

Toys R Us shoppers benefit from two secret Santas


You can call it a random act of kindness.

About a dozen holiday shoppers were given their own gift from Santa last week when two anonymous benefactors paid hundreds of dollars worth of layaway orders at the Tigard Toys R Us.

Christmas is a busy time for the toy retailer, located at 10065 S.W. Cascade Ave.. Thousands of shoppers will visit the store this month, hoping to snag that perfect gift for boys and girls across the Portland-area.

For many, the store’s layaway program is the only option to afford the items, allowing customers to make payments in increments in the weeks and months before Christmas.

Two benefactors last week told the store they wanted to secretly pay off the balance on several of those layaway orders.

Five customers on Dec. 5 learned their tabs were paid in full.

Store officials said they drew a handful of names out of a hat to keep things fair.

In total, about a dozen people at the store got their items paid for, according to Toys R Us spokeswoman Katie Reczek.

Reczek said she couldn’t release any information about the customers or the items they purchased. She also wouldn’t provide a final tally of how much the generous benefactors paid for the layaways at the store, but said Toys R Us layaways average about $200 each.

The so-called “layaway Santas” or “layaway angels” aren’t uncommon this time of year, Reczek said.

Similar tales of generosity popped up in Ohio, Illinois and several other Toys R Us and other retail stores across the country this holiday season.

The trend of giving began last year with donors paying off tabs for toys that were close to default. The Orange County Register last year reported that a Southern California man spent nearly $16,000 to pay off the balance of the entire layaway roster at a Kmart store.

The trend has continued this year and has inspired the New-Jersey-based retailer, Reczek said. Every time an anonymous person pays off another’s layaway balance, Toys R Us donates $200 worth of toys to Toys for Tots, a program run by the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves that distributes toys to needy children across the country each Christmas.

“Each layaway averages about $200, so we give $200 to Toys for Toys,” Reczek said.

Toys R Us plans to donate about $1 million worth of toys this winter.

The Tigard store so far has donated about $2,400 to Toys for Tots.



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