A layaway Santa is bringing smiles to 76 shoppers this week after the real-life Santa bought “free” gifts for Walmart guests. This generous giver, who initially came in to the retail store as part of a pick-up charity event, walked out bringing holiday joy to many families, stunning people in the locale with his willingness to give. NBC reveals how this helpful person brought about the Christmas spirit to many by buying these items this Sunday, Dec. 15, 2013.
The layaway Santa shocked a minimum of 76 strangers at a Florida Walmart early this winter season. The 40-year-old’s identity has recently been revealed as Greg Parady, who was planning on picking up a number of bikes for an upcoming Toys-for-Tots drive. While waiting, he heard a nearby woman saying that she thought she would need to cancel her present order because she didn’t have the money to afford the layaway price.
"It just kind of unfolded," said Parady. "I wandered into the layaway section and it's kind of a depressing place ... over by the bathrooms and bikes, it's kind of a random potpourri."
Parady decided to ask the store’s manager what the total cost of all of the layaways this year cost. It left over $89,000 in charges, and the soon-to-be layaway Santa realized how many people in his hometown were struggling to make ends meet, and just wanted to make a special holiday for their families with a nice gift.
Although he knew he didn’t have the finances to pay all this himself, the generous giver decided to help out best he could, claiming he would pay roughly $21,000 for them. The heartfelt man then took out his credit cards and began swiping through the system for different items, quite literally paying for strangers as Santa himself might. Quite a few people in line were planning to cancel their layaway orders when Parady said that he would purchase them.
"He would swipe his card and say, 'Merry Christmas,'" said Parady's managing partner, Cindy Nazzaro, 58, who was there with Greg to help pick up the bikes.
"They didn't know what was happening at first," said Wal-Mart operations manager Deb Davis, working the counter at the time. "This one girl in particular, she goes, 'What do I owe?' My associate goes, 'That gentlemen right there just paid for you.'"
The woman was said to burst into tears at the kindness of the layaway Santa, and couldn’t believe that her gifts this year weren’t free, but paid for at Walmart by a good Samaritan. Up to 76 shoppers were said to have been given gifts from this charitable individual.
"Every time I looked over at her she would mouth the words, 'Thank you,'" said Parady.
"My controller had to stay on the phone with three different banks, they would approve it, two would go through, and then the automatic system declining it," said Parady. "She just kept flipping back and forth, it was going for a couple of hours."
"I've never seen anything of this magnitude," said Davis, a 13-year veteran, who said goosebumps and tears spread among her and the four other employees working the counter. "It was like stepping back in time when life wasn't so busy and so hectic when neighbors were helping neighbors."