Angel in the aisles: Organization raises money to help families by paying away their layaways

We’re getting closer to Thanksgiving and Christmas and while we love this time of year, we know the season can be hard on your wallet.

For some families, getting gifts under the tree is tough. But among the hustle and bustle of holiday shopping, there’s someone really special: An “angel in the aisles” surprising people by paying off their layaways.

We were only in Walmart for a few minutes when a mom came to pay her layaway, but the people at the register stopped her.

“So is this for this darling girl here,” asked Leigh Clark, founder of Kindleigh. “It’s for her, a foster brother and my biological son,” said mom Stephanie.

Stephanie is a new foster mom with more kids to care for this Christmas. On top of that, today is her birthday.

“Bet you didn’t expect this when you walked into Walmart today,” asked WINK News’ Amanda Hall.

“No. Actually I didn’t even plan on coming to Walmart. I had a little time free before picking up my son, so this was totally unexpected,” said Stephanie.

Leigh Clark and Walmart employee Frank high five. (WINK News)

The clerk rang up her treasures. Her bill? Cleared!

Then, it was time to find another layaway to pay away.

“I was just calling to inform you that your layaway balance has been paid off,” Walmart employee Frank said on the phone to another lucky customer.

Leigh and Frank high fived and with that, shoppers rushed to the store to pick up their gifts. But, there was an extra surprise.

“Here’s another $50 for you guys to spend at Walmart today, so happy to help,” said Leigh.

“I’m glad they have organizations like this,” said Deanna.

Kindleigh was started by Leigh as a way for other people to help pay off layaways.

She said she learned years ago, you get joy by giving it.

“In ’08 during the recession, I lost a really great job as a director of marketing and it was a really, a crossroads as a human: ‘Where is my purpose beyond my profession,’ said Leigh. “I heard about people who paid off layaways like the Tyler Perry and the Oprah and I’m not, like, NFL rich, but let me go pay one. It was like $40. It’s all I had at the time and I was like, I want to do more of this.”

“Tell me why you have tears in your eyes,” Hall asked another customer, Kathy. “Becuase I was trying to figure out, just by coincidence, on the phone, when the phone rang, how I was going to pay what I needed to by the 15th, because I’m on disability and I couldn’t really afford it, but that’s what my granddaughter wanted, so I am so grateful, so grateful,” she said.

Leigh hugs one of the customers whose layaway her company paid off. (WINK News)

And that’s just it. What makes this mission of kindness so special is the people Leigh helps are so grateful, not because they’re getting a gift. Their gift is being able to give their kids or grandkids a Christmas morning with something special to open.

“I appreciate this from all my heart, I really do,” said another customer touched by Leigh’s kindness. “We’re so happy to help you,” Leigh said. “Give me another hug.”

It’s a reminder for all of us to be kind and help others, and it just might make you feel good too.

Leigh says the organization pays off between 30 and 70 layaways every year, depending on the fundraising.

If you’d like to help pay off someone’s layaway, you can donate by clicking here or texting “GIVE” to 917-781-1791. All donations are tax-deductible.

Reporter:Amanda Hall
Writer:Briana Harvath
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