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Layaway Santas Bring Holiday Magic in Riverhead

The act of kindness means Christmas will be coming for two families with children.

Layaway Santas have struck in Riverhead, leaving Christmas miracles in their wake.

Monday night, two big-hearted Santa's elves, members of the Kiwanis Club of Greater Westhampton, went to the Riverhead Walmart layaway department to make two families' holiday dreams come true, paying off their layaway bills so they could bring the gifts home and put them under the tree.

The pair, who have been giving back every holiday season for 25 years, often participate in Kiwanis' Adopt-A-Family tradition. This year, Kiwanis spent $2000 on three Adopt-A-Family wish lists.

But the layaway angels, who wish to remain secret Santas and not divulge their identities, felt the need to do more.

"I saw a man in Florida who was going to buy a bike and spent over $21,000 to help people with layaway items at the store," the woman said.

Inspired, the pair spent $400 to pay the layaway bill for a family that included six children and one grandchild — as well as the layaway charges for one other family.

"We were talking to some friends we knew and the woman who worked there came running over. The woman we'd chosen is a Walmart employee, and she was on the phone. She was crying. I was trying to keep my composure. She told us, 'You don't know how much this means. There was no way I was going to be able to get these kids presents. I couldn't give them a Christmas.'"

The Kiwanis Santa said it was the first time in 25 years that she'd been able to hear firsthand how holiday donations had impacted the life of a family during the holiday season.

"It was one of the greatest moments of my life," she said. "I was crying along with them — such a great experience."

The Layaway Santas said they'd love to repeat the experience next year. "I hope someone pays it forward," one said. "I've been so blessed over the years, I just wanted to give something back."

A Riverhead Walmart department manager, Linda, who asked that her last name not be used, said the giving gesture was greatly appreciated by the Walmart staffer blessed by the Layaway Santas' kindness. "I think it's absolutely wonderful," she said. "It shows me that there are a lot of giving and caring people out there."


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