Maine Township mom grateful to layaway ‘angel’
Debbie Martin of unincorporated Maine Township was shocked to find out that an anonymous stranger had paid off her Kmart layway this Christmas. | Contributed photo
Updated: March 11, 2013 2:20AM
MAINE TOWNSHIP — When Debbie Martin put a number of much-needed items on layaway at Kmart in Des Plaines, she never imagined that a complete stranger would end up paying off the balance.
But that’s exactly what happened.
Stories of anonymous Good Samaritans volunteering to pay off layaway purchases for unsuspecting — and grateful — Kmart customers have been pouring in from across the country for the last year. And just before Christmas it was Martin, a resident of unincorporated Maine Township and an employee at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, who found herself to be a lucky recipient of a stranger’s act of kindness.
Q: How did you learn that your layaway had been paid off?
A: I got a phone call on Christmas Eve. I missed it and when I checked the voicemail it was the manager of the Des Plaines Kmart and she said a “Christmas angel” had paid my layaway in full. She told me all I had to do was pick it up. I called back and was like, “Are you serious?” And she said, “Yes. The person who paid off the layaway only asked that you pay it forward.”
Q: How did you feel when you heard this?
A: Seriously, I started to cry. I was like, “You’ve got to be kidding.” I’ve never had anything like that happen to me. I was thinking, “Oh my God, someone who doesn’t even know me did this for me?” I was shocked.
Q: How much was left to be paid?
A: Two-hundred five dollars.
Q: Were these Christmas presents?
A: No. I had already taken out my Christmas layaway and I had an after-Christmas layaway for (my son). A couple of outfits for me, but mostly stuff for the baby, like boots so he’d have extra stuff when it does snow. They went under the tree as gifts from Santa because we picked them up on Christmas Eve.
(My son) is four and he can read now, so he read the boxes and said, “This is mine and it’s from Santa!” That made his Christmas and it made mine, too, just to see his face.
Q: Before this happened to you, had you heard of strangers paying off layaways?
A: No. My husband did, but I didn’t. My husband said there were secret stoppers paying off layaways at Kmart and saying to “pay it forward.” I saw a joke about it on Facebook one day from one of my friends and I saw the movie “Pay it Forward,” but I didn’t know people were going around paying off layaways for people.
Q: How do you think you will “pay it forward”?
A: I thought of lots of things even before this happened, things to do for people you don’t know, like giving blankets to the Pacific Garden Mission.
The manager at Kmart who gave me the layaway said, “You’ll know how to pay it forward if you just listen.” When I’m able to help somebody who needs help and as long as I’m paying attention I think I’ll know.
Q: What would you like to say to the person who did this good deed for you?
A: Thank you so much. And I will pay it forward. I just haven’t figured how yet.