Thanksgiving isn’t even here yet, but the holiday spirit is already going strong in Vermont.
A secret Santa Claus bestowed early Christmas cheer on some Walmart shoppers.
The mystery man selflessly paid for strangers’ layaway purchases.
A Christmas miracle in the Northeast kingdom.
“I don’t even think I can find the words to say.”
Julie Gates went to pick up a package on Thursday at the Derby Wal-Mart. While in line, she overheard a conversation.
“He came up to the man in front of me and said, ‘either I am going to pay for it now or I am going to pay for it later.'”
Then he turned to her and asked if she was paying for an item on layaway.
“He said why don’t you run and get what you want now and come back here.”
Gates was skeptical, but putting items on layaway is why she was there in the first place.
“So I came back and he was standing there waiting… there was no one left.”
He paid for everything.
“This can’t be, who can afford to pay for everyone layaway? and he said ‘Santa Claus can.'”
Tammy Desautels said, “Kind of like surreal when they said no balance due or whatever – then it was really a reality.”
“I thought it was a rumor,” said Sandra Cortez.
Wal-Mart couldn’t say how much the mystery shopper spent or how many people went home with free gifts, and there is only one photo of the man.
“There were people ahead of me who were $800-900 layaways,” Gates said.
And many say this is more than just free Christmas gifts its making sure people can now pay for what’s important.
“It really helped me a lot,” said Desautels.
Desautels says money has been tough since her husband broke her foot. She says gifts are now one less thing to worry about going into the cold winter months.
“I really have a feeling that there is hope for mankind or whatever – there’s still good people out there.”
Recipients still in shock.
“I want to thank him,” said Sandra Cortez-Brownington.
“I get goose bumps thinking that – that is the true magic of Christmas – that’s the Christmas spirit walking amongst us.”
St. Nick himself? Or maybe an elf? We may never know.