Good Samaritan Pays Off Strangers’ Toys R US Layaway Balance

Good Samaritan Pays Off Strangers’ Toys R US Layaway Balance


Toys-R-UsLast Friday, just a few short days before Christmas, an anonymous woman walked into a Toys R Us  store and plopped down $19,600 to pay for 125 layaway accounts. If you don’t know, Toys R Us and many department stores offer customers an option to put down 10% of the purchase price on any item(s) they want to purchase. The store holds the item so no one else can purchase it and the customer is given 90 days to pay off the item. The customer can then take the item home.  As you can imagine, people who choose the layaway option do not have a lot of money.

Lesson #1 – There’s always someone who needs it more that You: “I have a baby – it helps a lot!  “She’s just awesome. I’m gonna cry.” This is the response of one of the fortunate individuals who had her layaway tab paid off. You see, if you have next to nothing and you just want to get your children a few Christmas gifts, a $50 donation can feel like you just won the lottery. It probably feels like God just sent you an angel to get you through a tough time.

Lesson #2 – It feels good to give: When we hear stories like this, our tendency is to focus on those who were fortunate enough to receive the donation, but my attention turns to the individual who was generous enough to provide such a thoughtful gesture. While choosing to keep her identity a secret, this woman gave a hug to an employee and said, “If you have it, give it.”

Lesson #3 – We are Charitable: In an unrelated event, another person paid over $1,000 for purchases of people in line at Toys R Us. Nationwide, Toys R Us reported that 597 layaway items were paid for by charitable donations in 2013. And, this is just one store. Americans Americans are overwhelmingly generous, donating a reported $416.5 billion (yes that’s a b) to charity in 2013.

Lesson #4 – People Matter More Than Things: When I was a kid, I couldn’t wait to see what I would get from Santa and other relatives. The adage, “It is better to give than to receive,” seemed incomprehensible. As time progressed, I came to realize that people mattered more than things. I also came to realize that giving selflessly of yourself makes you feel good about yourself… proud… grateful that you can help others. For decades I have been saying that it is impossible to tell someone what it feels like to give to give/do something for someone else.  You simply have to do it in order to feel that feeling, which is why you see an entire week in the Character Development & Leadership curriculum devoted to giving back to society.

Lesson #5 – Take Care of Those Who Take Care of You: It’s important to remember that you don’t have to be wealthy to give. When the holiday season arrives each year, I always make sure to thank those who help me out through the year. For example, I provide a gift certificate to the mail delivery person, UPS driver, paperboy, trash guys… I try to do a little extra to help those in need and we make sure to donate toys through charitable organizations.

Lesson #6 – The Little Things Make the Big Difference: Finally, keep in mind that giving doesn’t have to be monetary. Once a month, my wife and kids volunteer to deliver meals to elderly people who can no longer cook for themselves via an organization called Meals on Wheels. This is a kind gesture, but this isn’t the full story. In November, my wife bought two dozen flowers and two dozen small vases.  A few days ago, they sat at the dining room table creating “Christmas Necklaces,” made up of string and green, red and white beads. These small gestures let these senior citizens know that they still matter. They love to see these 4 kids with smiling faces pile out of their mini-van with some home-made gift. And, I know my kids are so much better for the experience… for they know what it’s like to do something for somebody else.  Do you?

Your Turn: Please place your comments below, (2) like and share our Facebook page (character development & leadership) or (3) tweet to @CDandLeadership)

1. What have you done in your life that has given you the feeling of doing something for someone else? What was it? How did it make you feel? If not, why not?

2. What do you plan to do this year to give of your time/money/resources to others who are less fortunate?

3. Arthur Ashe’s dad required Arthur and his sister donate a present they had just received for Christmas to a charity that donated gifts to boys and girls who otherwise received no gifts. Would you consider doing this? Why or why not?





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  1. I believe that these gestures are very thoughtful. More people should be donating to charity and/or helping people i need. Not many people might ask for these donations, but once they receive them it goes a long way.