A man filled with holiday spirit became a real-life Santa Claus when he walked into a Walmart and paid for all the layaway items awaiting customer payments.
Julie Ann Gates was one of the lucky customers inside the Derby, Vermont, store who received the man’s generosity, and couldn’t believe what she was seeing.
“I just can’t put into words how much that man has done for so many people,” Gates told ABC News. “He is the true meaning of Christmas.”
Gates said she went to Walmart with her son and mother on Nov. 15. When she was in the line to pay for her items, she overheard a man asked one of the men in the line in front of her about paying for items.
“‘Listen I can either have you put it on a layaway, and I’m going to pay for it when you leave. You’ll just have to come right back and pick it up or you could follow me over to the cash register, and I pay for it now,'” was what the man said, according to Gates’ recollection.
At first, Gates thought it was a father and his son, until the man approached her by himself.
“The guy turned to me and said ‘are you going to put anything on layaway,'” Gates said.
“‘Well why don’t you run and get what you were going to get and come back, and I pay for it. I have a few minutes before I go to the doctor,'” the man said, according to Gates.
Gates wasn’t sure what to make of it until she realized it wasn’t a prank.
“Nobody does that,” Gates told ABC News.
After Gates retrieved her items the man was still there waiting to pay for her, she said.
“He was waiting for me to come back with my layaway, and he said ‘you know just go over to the cash register and I’ll come over and I’ll pay for it,'” Gates recalled.
Gate was in disbelief at what she just witnessed.
“I said oh my goodness! Thank you!” Gates recalled saying to the man after she put her items in her car.
“How could anyone afford to do this,” she asked the man. “He said ‘Santa Claus can.'”
Gates asked the man for his real name so she could remember what he did for her. The man told her his name was “Kris Kringle.” He then turned and walked away.
Gates took a picture of the good Samaritan with her phone, capturing only the back of his New England Patriots jacket.
Asked why she thinks the man paid for her and others, Gates suggested the man might have gone through hard time in life and now he just wants everyone to be happy.
“I know personally he is my Santa Claus. He is my Kris Kringle. I’ll forever have his face embedded in my mind,” Gates said. “He’s given so many people the opportunity not worrying about Christmas, to just be with their families and not stress that maybe they can’t afford it.”
A spokesperson for Walmart said that it is a privilege to be the place for the good deed.
“When customers quietly pay off others’ layaway items, we’re reminded how good people can be. We’re honored to be a small part of these random acts of kindness,” the company told ABC News.
Walmart would not say how much the man spent on other people’s items.