Last week, an unnamed woman walked into a Kmart store in Auburn, Maine. Shoppers who saw her say she looked weak and tired, leaning on shelves and taking frequent breaks on her way to the layaway counter, where she told the staff she was terminally ill and wanted to do something nice before she died. Fifteen minutes later, she had paid off 16 balances for layaway bills, to the tune of $3,000. She left without being identified, but is now known as Auburn’s “Layaway Angel.”
The store manager, Joyce Beane, was blown away by the random act of kindness. “It was that powerful,” she told a local news station. “It takes something like this to make you think, ‘Oh, my word. If I were facing the end of my life, would I take time to reach out and help people?’” The 16 customers who had their bills paid off included families incrementally paying for Christmas presents and a local charity that uses the layaway program to buy gifts for kids in need. The concept of a “Layaway Angel” is actually broader than this story, having gained popularity in the last few years as a way to give back, especially during the holidays. But the fact that this woman used some of her last minutes on Earth to help others? Well, that makes this story even more touching and tragic.
P.S. If you’re curious about what it’s like to be a Layaway Angel, my friend Sarah wrote a sweet post about her experience that might inspire you to try it yourself!