About 80 military families at Travis Air Force Base, Calif., are full of holiday cheer after an anonymous donor paid off $10,000 in layaways.
The donor, who did not wish to give her name, said she grew up in a military family and remembers her parents putting holiday gifts on layaway when she was a child. She called the Travis Exchange to let them know that she wanted to pay it forward by taking care of layaway for military families.
The donor combed through the layaway list, picking out layaways that had toys, clothes and games for children. She also paid for several suits that were on layaway, saying that the shoppers might need the suits for holiday events or professional purposes.
After going through the layaway list, the donor ended up nearly doubling her original planned donation to $10,000.
Just the day before, a representative from Armed Forces Bank came to the Exchange to pay off about $400 in layaway for about eight military families, continuing an annual tradition at the bank.
After the layaway was paid, Travis Exchange General Manager Flor Payton and her team schemed up a way to surprise the shoppers. They called the families and told them that they had won a prize and to come to the Exchange at a certain date and time for the presentation.
The plan was nearly foiled when some customers tried to pay off their layaway before the presentation, but the Customer Service team told them the system was down and to come back on the specified day.
“It was such a great thing to see their faces,” Payton said. “The young Airmen especially were very emotional.”