'Layaway angel' saves Christmas for single mom

NED B. HUNTER Updated: December 21, 2012 at 12:00 am • Published: December 21, 2012

Carla Wilson’s young son “goes crazy” each time he sees the commercial for Master Moves Mickey.

The Mickey Mouse doll, dressed in a knee-length sweatshirt and sideways baseball cap, performs break dance moves to rap music that starts when you squeeze his black button nose. The toy sells for $69.99 at the Kmart at Powers and Palmer Park boulevards on the east side of Colorado Springs, where Wilson works.

Since Wilson, a single mom, didn’t have the money for either the doll or the clothes she wanted for Christmas for her 20-month-old, Dwight, she put her gifts on layaway, which allows people to pay a little at a time. But Wilson, 29, was unable to pay the total cost of her Christmas gifts before Thursday, when they were scheduled to be restocked for public purchase.

That’s when an angel saved her Christmas.

Anonymous donors — so-called “layaway angels” — appeared last year, paying off people’s layaway bills during the holiday season. Such angels have returned this year; on Thursday, a customer whose name Kmart did not release paid for Wilson’s layaway items and the layaway items for two other customers, said Joe Hanks, the store’s general manager.

Wilson said her Christmas gifts cost her angel $111.72. Hanks said the angel paid a total of about $300 for all three people. On Tuesday, someone paid off nearly $900 in layaway items.

“I just felt all warm and fuzzy inside,” Wilson said. “I still have a smile on my face. It is amazing to know there are still people out there like that who do these things, especially with all that is going on.”

Last year, layaway angels nationwide paid for more than $1 million in Christmas gifts for people who used Kmart’s layaway program, said Molly Sheehan, spokeswoman for Kmart. Layaway angels had paid for another $56,396 in merchandise this year as of Friday morning, according to Kmart’s website.

Layaway angels are not strictly a Kmart phenomenon, though; secret donors also have shown up in stores including Toys R Us and Wal-Mart, according to media reports.

Wilson, who heads the infants and kids section at the Palmer Park Kmart, said her angel’s gift makes it possible for her to become an angel also. She said she plans on donating a portion of her next check to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, one of Kmart’s charities.

 “And I can go out and get stuff for other friends of mine,” she said, “and keep the charity going.”

Contact Ned Hunter: 636-0275.

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