Exchange Store Communication and Support Manager Jennifer Jordan has spent the last two holiday seasons forging a relationship with Pay Away the Layaway, a nonprofit that pays off holiday layaways at major retailers. Jordan has supported events at Exchange stores around the world, and on Dec. 21, that work paid off in a big way.
Thanks to Jordan, the Fort Campbell Pay Away the Layaway event was covered live by “Good Morning America” as part of their ongoing segment, Giving My All. Meteorologist Rob Marciano shared the news with the families at a surprise event on Friday morning.
“Every family here today that has something on layaway has had their layaway paid off!” Marciano said in announcing the surprise.
‘I feel so fortunate’
Families were in attendance to receive their layaway items, with their reactions captured on national TV. In total, more than $7,000 was paid to make spirits bright for Fort Campbell families.
“All our layaway gifts are for our grandchildren,” said Ellen Wooster, whose husband retired from the Army at Fort Campbell. “Christmas is really about the kids, so this means a lot to us.”
Jordan said working to share this holiday joy with Exchange shoppers makes all the hard work worth it.
“When you see their faces, especially the kids, you get the sense that what you are doing is significant to these military families’ lives,” Jordan said. “I feel so fortunate to be part of bringing this experience to our shoppers.”
From wrapping gifts to decorating shopping carts
Members of Exchange leadership were on hand all week to assist with every aspect of the event, from wrapping gifts to decorating shopping carts to look like sleighs.
Tina Massey, visual merchandiser for the Fort Campbell Exchange, put Air Force CMSgt Luis Reyes, Exchange senior enlisted advisor, and East Central Region Vice President Ronny Rexrode to work cutting out cart decorations.
“It’s so great to see something like this for our shoppers,” Massey said. “Anytime they win or receive a gift like this, it reminds us why we are here—to provide for Warfighters, retirees and their families.”
Lifting the financial burden
Reyes also participated in the procession of gifts once the surprise was announced.
“I am so excited to be able to bring this opportunity to our shoppers at Fort Campbell,” Reyes said. “Collaborating with Pay Away the Layaway allows us to lift the financial burden for the best customers in the world.”
“Collaborating with Pay Away the Layaway allows us to lift the financial burden for the best customers in the world.”
-CMSgt Luis Reyes, Exchange senior enlisted advisor
Before the event, producers from “Good Morning America” interviewed some of the lucky families—without letting them know about the layaway surprise. Sgt. 1st Class Damion Mays told the crew he appreciates the time he gets to spend with his family this holiday season.
“I have six kids, and it’s difficult to get them everything they want,” Mays said. “But we try to find out what they want the most, and at least get them that.”
Layaway events at other Exchanges
Besides Fort Campbell, the Exchange hosted surprise events at Forts Bliss, Polk, Carson and Bragg; Joint Base Langley-Eustis; Andersen AFB; and Ramstein AB, paying off dozens of families’ layaway balances, totaling tens of thousands of dollars.
Pay Away the Layaway is a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that raises money online to pay off layaway balances. The mission of the organization is to inspire hope and spread kindness.
See coverage of the events:
- The “Good Morning America” segment
- Good Morning America Twitter
- Exchange Associate Twitter
- More from “Good Morning America”