Tech-free Friday – Secret Santas, Living in Pennsylvania, U.S.A.

Two different Secret Santas have been paying off tens of thousands of dollars of layaway accounts at discount stores in Pennsylvania.  A man who goes by the name ‘Santa B’ has been paying off layaways at central Pennsylvania Walmarts for at least three years. This year, he paid off 239 accounts worth a total of $166,000 at stores in Harrisburg, Everett and Lebanon.   A different anonymous Santa paid off some accounts at Kmart’s Holmes store, near Philadelphia. Employees say he’s done that every Christmas for several years and specifically asks to pay off those with toys and other Christmas presents. 

It’s unclear how much the Secret Santa paid off at the Kmart, but a British paper, the, has reached out to the company to get the total figure. This has been the last week at many discount stores for customers to pay away their layaway balances on their Christmas items.  Many discount stores offer the option to put items on layaway and pay off the balance in increments. If a customer cannot pay the total, the items are returned to store shelves. 

Monday was the last day for Walmart customers to pay off their layaway accounts, so many of the stores were busy this weekend with customers settling their accounts.  Ryan Kennedy, the manager of the Everett store, said he received a call last Wednesday from a man wanting to pay off all 194 remaining layaway accounts at the store.

The following day, a woman came in and delivered a check on his behalf for more than $46,000 dollars.   ‘It was complete disbelief,’ Kennedy told CNN.  ‘It was definitely a great gesture. I was completely shocked.’  Kennedy says that some customers were moved to tears when they learned that their bills had been paid by the Secret Santa.  The same Secret Santa paid off $46,000 worth of layaway accounts at the Lebanon location and $74,000 at the Harrisburg location. 

One Walmart shopper, Sandy Terry, told CNBC that the ‘Santa B’ paid off the $75 she still owed for an Xbox she bought her grandson. She said she was exceptionally grateful to the Secret Santa because she’s been forced out of her job due to health issues this year, and wasn’t sure how she was going to cover the cost of the present.  A Walmart spokesman said that the good deed is commended by the company. 

‘When customers quietly pay off others’ layaway items, we’re reminded how good people can be,’ Leslee Wright, Walmart’s senior manager for communications, said in a statement. ‘The joy that comes from these transactions extends well beyond dollars and cents. We’re honored to be a small part of these random acts of kindness.’  The Secret Santa who paid of the Kmart store’s layaway accounts also wishes to remain anonymous. 

Local woman Vanessa Dimento says she went into the store recently to pay off her $300 dollar balance and found that it had been paid off by the Secret Santa.  ‘I just never thought anybody would do something like this for me, a total stranger that doesn’t even know me,’ Dimento told WPVI.  Dimento said she passed a woman on the way into the store who had her $1,000 layaway bill paid off.  

And I always thought that Santa lived at the North Pole.  Pennsylvania?

Ray Myers


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