WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- The spirit of giving is in the air across the nation. Anonymous donors are paying off layaway purchases at Kmart stores from coast to coast. Now, it's happening in Wilmington.
"I was astonished, shocked, surprised," David Marlowe said.
Many emotions ran through Marlowe Saturday night. That's when a stranger sitting in the Kmart layaway department did something unexpected.
"When I went up to make the payment on my layaway, a gentleman stepped up and said he was going to go ahead and pay for it," Marlowe said.
The generous donor didn't want any recognition. He only wanted to help.
"It helped us tremendously," Marlowe said. "It's no secret, the economy the way it is, you've got to pinch every dollar."
But the secret Santa wasn't finished yet. The Marlowes aren't the only ones who received a Christmas surprise.
"It was several while I was back there," Marlowe said. "They had a stack of paid layaway receipts that he had already paid up, and he had helped several people before I got there, and it was an emotional layaway."
There have been "emotional layaways" across the nation. Anonymous donors are popping up at Kmarts everywhere paying off balances for unsuspecting shoppers. It happened recently in Nevada, Iowa, South Carolina and now here.
"They had a lady who actually come back from purchasing her layaway a few minutes earlier, and she gave him a hug and a kiss," Marlowe said. "I told him I wasn't going to give him a hug and a kiss, but I shook his hand and told him how much I appreciated it."
Marlowe says the anonymous donor told him he knew what it was like to struggle, so now he's helping others.
Marlowe wanted to show his appreciation. He volunteers at the Cape Fear Optimist Christmas tree lot in the Kmart parking lot. When he found out the Kmart Santa didn't have a tree yet. He bought him one. After all, it's even better to give then to receive.