The request was so odd that Yvonne Messink didn't initially understand it. As a veteran of 27 years with the company, the assistant manager at the Bloomfield Township Kmart thought she had seen it all.
But when a customer Thursday was adamant that she make layaway payments on behalf of a needy family for the holidays, she didn't realize it was happening across the country.
"I initially was going to encourage her to support our St. Jude campaign, but she said 'no,' and that she wanted to help a family with toys or clothing on layaway for the holiday," Messink said this morning. "It's never happened before."
The donor has asked to remain anonymous to this point and final details are expected to be worked out later today, Messink said.
Her district manager indicated it was happening in stores around the nation.
The Detroit Free Press reported today that anonymous donors are paying off strangers' layaway accounts and buying the Christmas gifts other families couldn't afford, especially toys and children's clothes.
The difficult part for Messink and the staff now is to determine which layaway customers have the most need, which is not a requirement for Kmart's longstanding layaway policy. She encouraged any others interesting in donating to come with a name or support Kmart's ongoing campaign with St. Jude Children's Research Hospital through Jan 1.