Struggling parents with children’s clothing and toys on layaway are finding that anonymous strangers have paid their balances down to a penny at Kmart and other stores across the country. Retailers have known “Secret Santas” for years, but this Christmas season appears to be different.

According to the Frederick News Post in Maryland, a local manager said, “I’ve been in management here nine years, and we had one or two each year. This year we had 16 or 17 in just the past few days. The need is really there and people are helping out.”

A Maryland Secret Santa said a clerk told her people had been coming in all day. “It was a great feeling to see it wasn’t just me,” she said.

Some parents who were told their balances had been paid cried tears of joy and gratitude.

People who make others’ lives a little better know how the first Santa Claus must have felt. Saint Nicholas was a fourth-century bishop who used his inheritance to anonymously help children and families in need. This reputation led to his being associated with surprise gifts at Christmas.

“With all the bad news we see,” said the Frederick Kmart manager, “it is great to see something good happening.”

At Christmas and every other time of year, let’s each find our own way to light one candle rather than to curse the darkness.

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