Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes
This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.
BENTONVILLE, Arkansas — Santa Claus is getting some serious backup this year.
Three separate donors in three states shelled out nearly $500,000 to cover layaway items for Walmart shoppers, stunning those who've fallen on tough times this holiday season.
Though he couldn't find a chimney, an anonymous Secret Santa paid a visit to two Walmart stores in Ohio with the intent to distribute Christmas cheer. At the first location, the donor shelled out $72,000 to cover layaway balances for 100 shoppers, according to Cleveland's Fox 8 News.
But Santa wasn't done yet. He headed to a second location and dropped another $36,000 on layaway items there — spending $100,000 total to help cover Christmas for strangers. The donor insisted on anonymity, according to a Walmart spokesman.
"(The customers) feel very blessed that someone has come in and done this," Lorain store manager Beverly Vargo told ABC News. "Most of them have multiple children, so it's giving them money to take care of other things."
ABC spoke to one of the recipients of the Ohio Santa's kindness, who called this the "best Christmas I've ever had."
Tara Neal put a "Frozen" bed on layaway for her daughter, and was overwhelmed when she was informed the bed was covered by the donor.
"I'm just super happy," said mother of four said. "The look on her face when she sees it on Christmas is going to be incredible."
Down in the Sunshine State, another anonymous giver shelled out $200,000 to cover items at two Florida locations, Walmart confirmed to ABC News.
And over in Pennsylvania, a donor going by the name "Santa B" dropped $79,000 at two different stores — $158,000 total — to ensure everyone had a "Merry Christmas," store manager Steven Myers told ABC.
"He said it's his way of giving back to the community and neighbors," Meyers said.
This isn't the first time Santa B. — known only as a local businessman — has paid off layaway balances. Last year, he donated $50,000 to help with Christmas gifts, ABC reports.
In total, the three donors in Ohio, Florida and Pennsylvania spent $484,000 on layaway balances, an act that embodies the holiday spirit, Walmart spokesman Wyatt Jeffries said in a statement.
"When customers anonymously pay off others' layaway items we're reminded of the amazing things people will do to support each other," the statement reads. "We're proud to be a small part of these random acts of kindness."