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‘Layaway angel’ pays Toys R Us bills in ABQ

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Every year, Lesley Corlis and husband Ryan start budgeting for Christmas a couple of months before the holidays, putting presents on layaway for their four children as early as October.

On Friday, when Corlis went to the Toys R Us on the West Side to collect the presents, she found a “layaway angel” had already footed her bill, as well as those of several other customers at the store’s two Albuquerque locations.

“Friday was absolutely the last day to pick them up before they put it all back,” Corlis said. “I went to get the presents and they came out with a receipt that said I didn’t have to pay anything. A secret shopper had come in earlier in the day and paid for everything on layaway.”

Layaway angels – people who anonymously pay for layaway items at stores such as Walmart, Kmart and Toys R Us – crop up around the country in the weeks before Christmas, according to Toys R Us. The Toys R Us corporate office said one person paid off $4,000 worth of gifts at the Uptown store on Indian School this year, covering the cost of 53 layaways.

Sometimes multiple people will contribute money toward the gifts or one person will pay off everything on layaway. The amount covered at the West Side store on Ellison and Alameda was not available, but Corlis said an angel paid off the remaining $115 of her $350 bill.

Corlis said she’d heard about “layaway angels” but never thought it would happen in Albuquerque or to her. If she ever met the person who paid for her family’s presents, she said she’d give him or her a big hug and tell them how much their generosity meant.

A mother of four children ages 1 through 12, Corlis works nights to help cover the cost of nursing school. She said she and her husband knew they had enough money to get the gifts off layaway, but now she’ll be able to give a little more for Christmas.

“We have four kids, so we’re constantly worried about things like that,” Corlis said. “As a parent, you’re always hoping you’re giving them enough. I hope that whoever did this knows how grateful we are. It restores my faith in humanity. You hear so much about bad stuff and never hear about the good things.”

Corlis said she hopes someday she can pay the generosity forward for someone else in need. “I don’t know if we can do it on the scale that this person did,” she said. “But I do hope that one day in the not-so-distant future, we can do this for another family.”