VIENNA, W.Va. -- Santa has paid an early visit to families in the Vienna area.
A customer paid off 41 layaway contracts containing mostly toys and gifts for children at the Kmart in Vienna on Wednesday. The total cost topped $8,600.
"First he wanted to just do toys," said Kyle Chester, the store's manager. "We explained to him that most people have a vast array of merchandise in layaway."
Chester said the man, who wants to remain anonymous, hopes his gift will move others to take similar actions.
The mysterious Santa got his wish. Three other people paid off layaways after they heard about his donation.
"It's an incredible thing. You know, it really brings back the true meaning of the Christmas season for us ... and allows us to remember as a group of workers what it means to celebrate Christmas," Chester said.
Store employees called the customers whose layaways were paid to tell them about the man's generosity. Erin Sims was skeptical when she received a message from the store on her cellphone at work.
"Sure enough, I called back and it was the real Kmart," she said. "I almost cried when I found out."
Sims said the mysterious Santa's donation paid off her layaway gifts for her three children, ages 1, 5 and 9.
"This is the best Christmas present I could have," she said. "Now I wish I could go out and pay-it-forward."Chester said it is not unusual for people to request to pay off others' layaway items. But this was the biggest donation he has seen in his six months at the store.