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'Layaway angels' earn wings in store aisles

Attention, Kmart shoppers: Available now in layaway, a free display of human kindness!

It has been invigorating to watch a wave of decency consistent with the spirit of this holiday season rolling across the country in recent weeks.

From nearby Exton to San Mateo, Calif., anonymous benefactors have been paying off department-store layaway accounts, particularly for desperate families with lots of kids.

A woman in Indianapolis paid off 50 accounts at a local Kmart, covered the cost of two carts of toys for strangers at the cash register, and then randomly handed out $50 bills in memory of her late husband. In Hayward, Calif., a man paid down 63 layaway accounts.

A woman in Boise, Idaho, paid an account because "when she was younger somebody did something like that for her Christmas," a store clerk told a local TV news reporter. Another person paid $500 on eight layaway accounts.

In Exton, it was reported that an anonymous donor had made it possible for a formerly homeless woman to give her son a toy crane and her daughters Barbie dolls.

Sales workers at Wal-Mart and Target stores are reporting mystery benefactors as well.

Layaway programs, which allow customers to pick out toys, clothes, or other gifts and pay the bill off a little at a time, once seemed relegated to history. But the economy in recent years have brought them back.

Once the layaway bill is paid, customers can get their items. But many families are in danger of not paying off their accounts before Christmas. Fortunately for some, the newly dubbed "layaway angels" are stepping up.

Their acts of kindness are powerful reminders of the goodness that still exists in a world where greed too often rules. These "layaway angels" speak clearly to the better side of human nature. It is the side that we all need to see more of, the side that makes people capable of random acts of kindness without seeking anything at all in return.