Family Whose Layaway Was Paid Off Vows to 'Pay it Forward'

(Springfield, MO) -- More and more families are picking up gifts in the Ozarks only to find a 'Secret Santa' has already paid them off.

Kmart stores here are echoing a nationwide trend as donors open their wallets to make massive payments on layaway accounts.

So far, dozens have paid off accounts at the E. Kearney store. The number of donors doubled overnight after shoppers saw our report earlier in the week.

About 100 people have had their accounts paid off at the S. Campbell location -- some by the same generous donor.

"One person came in the other day and had $3,000 and paid off probably 19 or 20 layaways," says sales manager Mike Gray.

And at least 20 accounts were paid up each day for the last three days at the Kmart on S. Glenstone. That's where Ashley Dorman found out someone had paid all but a penny on the presents for her two kids and three step children*.

We tagged along as she picked up the items and promised to "pay it forward." Dorman says her family is going to buy a Christmas meal for a family that may not have been able to afford one otherwise.

"Now my kids' Christmas is going to be bigger because of whoever this person is that done this for my family," she says. "God bless them, whoever done this and done it for everybody else in this area."

"It's a great feeling," adds Gray. "It's one of those things where it's a pay it forward type attitude."
Gray says the people giving these generous gifts rang from young to old. He says one woman even left the store crying because she was so happy. 

The layaways don't seem to be stopping.

"We're beginning to get most layaways paid off and caught up now," says Gray. "So if anyone comes in now, there's not a lot left to pay off."

*This updates a previous version of the story that improperly stated the number of Dorman's children.

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