Holidays

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PSA: You Can Easily Make Another Family’s Day By Paying Off Their Walmart Layaway Bill

With a little effort, you can become a "layaway Santa."

In general, the holidays are always a fantastic time to spread cheer with random acts of kindness and a little charitable giving. But in a year as hectic as 2020 has been, the idea of spreading a little holiday cheer seems more needed than ever. And while nonprofits, charities, and philanthropic ventures are all great organizations to give to, there's another way you can make an immediate difference. By paying off a stranger's layaway at Walmart you can help children and families in your local community have a happy holiday season.

Every year, financial constraints mean thousands of families across the country buy their children's holiday gifts and even essential items like clothes and shoes on layaway, a purchasing method where consumers pay a small deposit to "lay" an item aside until they can pay for it in full — either through multiple small payments or one lump sum. A number of national retailers offer layaway, including Walmart.

And every year, generous donors — often known as layaway angels or layaway Santas — swoop in around the holidays to pay off or pay down strangers' layaway purchases. In late November, WANE reported an anonymous donor paid off $1,000 worth of layaway orders at a Walmart in Fort Wayne, Indiana. A few states south, an anonymous donor paid off 330 layaway tickets earlier this month at a Walmart in Canton, Mississippi, according to WLBT.

Here's What You Need To Know To Become A Layaway Angel

First, it's important to know that not every Walmart participates in the retailer's layaway program. You can, however, easily find a participating Walmart near you by entering your city or zip code into Walmart's online Layaway Store Locator.

Second, all items put on layaway must be paid for in full and picked up by Dec. 14, according to Walmart's Layaway FAQs. That means that while it's still possible to cover the cost of a family's holiday gifts, layaway angels don't have much time to work their magic this year. If this is something that appeals to you, you won't want to waste any time.

Once you've found a Walmart near you that participates in layaway, it's a good idea to place a phone call to that store to learn what the process of making a good samaritan layaway payment is. As Bustle has previously reported, layaway angels generally have a few options when it comes to deciding which layaway ticket they'll cover. You can, for instance, ask a Walmart store associate to randomly pull a layaway ticket that is equal to or close to the amount you have to give. You can also reportedly ask for a layaway ticket that includes children's items like toys if focusing on families is especially important to you.

There's No Participating Walmart Near Me. Is There Another Way To Help?

Absolutely. Families who find they don't live near a Walmart that participates in the retailer's layaway program can still help ease another family's holiday costs with a donation to Pay Away the Layaway, Inc. The registered non-profit has been working to grow the layaway angel movement and pay off layaway plans that contain children's items at a number of national retailers since 2011. All donations made to Pay Away the Layaway go directly to helping families purchase children's gifts and essentials through layaway programs during both the holidays and the Back to School season.

Is Walmart OK With Layaway Angels Paying Off Strangers' Purchases?

In short, yes. Walmart has always supported and applauded the donors who pay off or pay down strangers' layaway tickets and says they're honored to play a small role in this generous tradition. "When customers quietly pay off others' layaway items, we're reminded how good people can be," Walmart spokesperson Payton McCormick told CNN in 2018. "We're honored to be a small part of these random acts of kindness."