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'Layaway Angels' help local families with Christmas

By Carole Mikita | Posted - Dec. 19, 2011 at 7:04 p.m.


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SALT LAKE CITY -- The spirit of giving has risen to a wonderful level this year throughout Utah. Call them "Secret Santas" or "Layaway Angels," people are paying the balance on layaway items so that families they don't know can have their Christmas gifts.

Just days ago, a family of six lost their home. They had to put all the money they had into a new place and couldn't afford to pay for gifts on layaway. It turns out, the parents didn't have to worry -- and they are not the only ones.

The shelves hold many Christmas wishes, but as the holiday approaches, some families know that with sudden financial setbacks, the toys, games and clothes may not make it under the tree. But with the help from some very generous Utahns, many families will have some presents.

"We've had 15 to 20 here," said Rick Mercurio, Bountiful Kmart store manager. "Every store has had a bunch of people come in to pay down a layaway on somebody who might be behind and their kids aren't going to have a Christmas unless they can get it out

Mercurio is grateful for customers who are helping families they do not know. And he gets to make the "good news" calls to let people know their layaway balance has been taken care of.

"They're just ecstatic; they can't believe it," Mercurio said. "They understand this is an outpouring of love and Christmas spirit, and they're just thankful."


They're just ecstatic; they can't believe it. They understand this is an outpouring of love and Christmas spirit, and they're just thankful.

–Rick Mercurio


These shelves hold many Christmas wishes. But as the holiday approaches, some families know that with limited funds or sudden financial setbacks, the toys and games and clothes may not make it under the tree. This year, some very generous Utahns are helping Santa.

"I never though that, that would happen here in Utah, let alone me and my family," said Zachery Anderton, a recipient of Layaway Angels donation.

Anderton and his wife found themselves unable to pay the balance on their Children's Christmas gifts, after the house they were renting was foreclosed on, leaving the family without a home.

"Come Sunday, about 6 p.m., we got a phone call from West Valley Wal-Mart, saying secret santa had paid off our layaway," Anderton said.

"My kids are actually going to have a Christmas," Anderton added. "They'll have something under the tree. I don't think there's enough words to explain what I would say to them -- thank you, and much more."

Anderton's family is one of many families that are grateful for the generosity of the "layaway angels."

Email: cmikita@ksl.com

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Carole Mikita

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