It's the best gift that I ever received, and it's the gift of believing in people.
One woman's act of kindness in a Michigan Kmart last week has kicked off a spree of giving across the country.
Pushing a cart of toys she planned to donate, an anonymous woman in her 30s approached the Kmart customer service counter Dec. 5 and asked to pay off someone's layaway balance. Kmart clerk Dannell Goddard told Wood TV she was confused.
"Well, are you trying to pick them up?" Goddard asked the woman. "'Cause you can't pick them up if you don't have an ID."
The woman answered, "Nope, I just want to help people."
After shuffling through several of the store's 800 layaway contract tickets, she picked three and handed over $500. In blue ink, she signed the receipts, "Happy Holiday from a friend."
Since then, copycat do-gooders have been popping up all over the United States.
Secret helpers have visited stores in Michigan nearly every day since the first random act of kindness, according to The Detroit News. One donor dropped off $2,000 to pay off 14 layaway contracts.
In Davenport Iowa, WQAD-TV reported Monday after one stranger paid off a layaway ticket, three more followed suit. Similar reports surfaced in Nebraska and California.
"I've been in this store 11 years and I've never seen anything like this," said Amie Stone, manager of the Davenport Kmart.
Mary Chapin, who had her $180 layaway ticket paid off in Michigan, said the anonymous donation "restored her faith in people." The money bought toys for her 12-year-old son David, who has autism.
"It's the best gift that I ever received, and it's the gift of believing in people," Chapin told WOOD TV. "And believing that there's good out there, 'cause you don't always see that."