CatLane/iStock(NEW YORK) — Across the country, a holiday tradition has been growing involving a group of "Layaway Angels" who are hard at work this time of year spreading holiday cheer by paying off layaway plans for complete strangers ahead of Christmas.
Tania McCarthy, a nursing assistant and single mom of two young sons, told ABC News' Good Morning America that she had fallen on hard times recently and was worried about how to make Christmas special for her two young boys.
"I had lost my job and my truck was repo-ed and recently my phone got shut off," McCarthy said.
She started a layaway program at Walmart to buy them Christmas gifts, but couldn't make her payment.
"It's hard," she added, growing emotional. "Making sure that I have things for them."
Just in the nick of time, however, "an angel blessed me," she said.
"There was a text on my phone from a Walmart associate saying … 'Come and get your stuff off of layaway … it's been paid for,'" she said.
A total of $237 in toys, all from an anonymous angel.
Earlier this month, entertainment industry mogul Tyler Perry paid off approximately $430,000 in layaway items at two Walmarts in Georgia.
"God bless you, go get your stuff and Merry Christmas," Perry said in a video announcing the news on Twitter.
Dakota Nelson, a young widower and father of seven who lost his wife this past summer, got a special surprise this holiday season, courtesy of an Idaho digital news site, EastIdahoNews.com, and a secret donor.
The father was surprised with the news that his layaway had been paid off, and then shocked even further with tens of thousands of dollars in gift cards from the anonymous donor, according to the station. Nelson broke down in tears when he was surprised with the holiday gifts.
In Chicopee, Massachusetts, 11-year-old Brady Procon helped raise funds to pay off a family's layaway of $300 in video games and toys.
"I wanted to do it because not a lot of kids aren't as fortunate as I am," Procon told local ABC News affiliate WGGB-TV. "It makes me feel happy and I hope that others do the same."
"I'm hoping other kids do this and kick off a trend," he added.
All across the country, families say they have been touched by these anonymous layaway angels.
"I'm looking forward to getting woken up by them, 'Mom, mom, come look!'" McCarthy said of Christmas this year. "And just have an amazing day with my kids."
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