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Mystery man spontaneously pays $25K in layaway bills

BELLEFONTAINE, Ohio — An anonymous donor is making the holidays merrier for shoppers with Christmas gifts on layaway at an Ohio store.

The Springfield News-Sun and WHIO-TV report that a man provided $25,000 in gift cards to pay off more than 100 layaway accounts at a Wal-Mart in Bellefontaine, 50 miles northwest of Columbus. The donations went toward accounts that included toys and already were partly paid.

Stefanie Evans of DeGraff was called to customer service and told the remaining $180 of her layaway was paid off.

“It doesn’t sound like much, but for our family it was a lot,” she said.

Evans said she and her and her husband are self-employed, and this had been a down year.

“I can’t even put it into words how thankful I was,” she said. “Eight kids come with eight long Christmas lists. It is a relief to be done with Christmas this soon because usually we go right up to the day.”

Kim Summers of Bellefontaine had an iPod and a Barbie Horse Stable on layaway and had paid $100 of her $272 bill. Then she got a call from Wal-Mart earlier this month saying her account balance was zero and she could pick up her items.

Summers said the act made her want to pay it forward.

“It brings back the spirit of Christmas and makes people believe again,” she said. “We have given food to our local pantry, and I have friend in need that I have helped her out, too.”

Store manager Jennifer Schumacher said she believes the man who made the donation is the same one who gave $25,000 to pay off layaways last year.

A Wal-Mart in nearby Urbana reports that a woman has come in the last two years to pay off layaway accounts. She paid off two accounts this year and wanted to make sure the items were for children.

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