WATERVILLE — Assistant manager Laurie Brown described the angel who wrote a check to Kmart for more than $6,000 Tuesday as an ordinary man on the street.

The angel who handed Karen Wright of Belgrade three $100 bills Wednesday afternoon in Walmart was an older woman with a tall red furry hat and a French accent.

In Kmarts all over the country and in Maine, generous strangers dubbed Christmas layaway angels have been paying off all but one penny of layaway balances.

Goodwill gestures are also taking place in other retail outlets both nationally and locally.

Brown, who has worked for 15 years at Kmart in Elm Plaza, said a manager at Kmart in Auburn notified her that a man with two children had paid off a long list of delinquent layaway accounts at the store and asked if there were other area Kmart stores with a number of similarly overdue accounts.

The Auburn angel was told that Kmart in Waterville had 33 such accounts that totaled more than $6,000.

Tuesday, the man who wished to remain anonymous, drove to the Elm City and paid the balance of all the delinquent accounts with a check.

“This brings tears to your eyes and gives you chills,” said Brown, the store’s assistant manager, who called each of the 33 people to tell them the good news.

Many of the layaways included toys, clothes and electronic games, she said. The largest amount owed on one account, was about $300, Brown said.

One woman asked Brown if she was joking. Another cried.

Brown said some, but not all, of the people she spoke with were aware of the Christmas layaway angels phenomenon sweeping the country.

Before Tuesday’s $6,000 present, Brown said several people had each paid off one layaway account that included mostly toys.

Jennifer Spaulding called her mother’s Waterville Walmart encounter with a kind stranger a blessing.

Spaulding said that she and her mother, Wright, were waiting for a worker at the layaway counter.

Spaulding said her mother had started a layaway account with the intention of buying an electronic present for her 13-year-old granddaughter.

But Spaulding said her mother realized she was not going to be able to come up with the money and went to Walmart to cancel the account.

A woman asked Spaulding, who was holding her 5-month-old daughter, Jasmine, if she was there regarding a layaway.

Spaulding, who described the woman as friendly, told her that her mother was closing one, then Spaulding left to grocery shop while her mother waited to be helped.

When Spaulding reunited with her mother in a grocery aisle, Spaulding learned the stranger had handed her mother three $100 bills and wished her a merry Christmas.

“She’s in shock,” Spaulding said. “My mother does not get speechless very often, but she is now. Our economy is so bad and so many people are having a hard time. This is good to see. Random people are helping each other; this makes me so happy. It’s a blessing.”

Beth Staples — 861-9252

[email protected]

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