NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – A toy store is packing up its layaway program, concerned that people took advantage of a kind-hearted Secret Santa.
But instead of a “Bah! Humbug” moment, the New Rochelle business is turning something naughty into something nice, reports CBS2’s Tony Aiello.
“We have a family with three kids, some of them request gift cards,” said Kemesha Salmon.
Salmon is making a list – and checking it constantly – helping generous customers like April DiPippo find and purchase gifts on the wish list of needy children.
“The point is to make sure everyone has an enjoyable holiday,” said DiPippo.
TP Toys is trying something new this year, working with a local agency to put gifts under the trees of families truly in need.
Some of them used to be paid for by a “Secret Santa,” a man who visited the last few years to generously pay off the balance for gifts on layaway.
The owner says her regular customers typically did layaway in September, giving them time to pay off what they had set aside.
Last year, she noticed a rush of new customers putting items on layaway in December – suspiciously close to the Secret Santa’s visit and saying “Hey, you know, I want to layaway a substantial amount of toys.”
To avoid any abuses, Salmon cancelled layaway and verified 12 families who needed holiday gift help.
When she explained the situation on a Facebook moms group, so many moms stepped up that more than 30 families will get help this year.
“So many people want to make a difference, so many people want to help,” said Will Iannuzzi of the Mascaro Boys and Girls Club that coordinated the help. “They are coming out in floods to do that.”
“That tells me my community is strong,” said Salmon. “My community loves giving back.”
The store owner says the Secret Santa who paid layaway the last few years will continue to help needy families in and around New Rochelle – but instead of one Secret Santa this year, there will be many multiplying the holiday spirit.