'Layaway angel' pays off purchases for shoppers

TIGARD, Ore. - Lisa Hynsen is a single mom with two young children who likely have big hopes for gifts this holiday season, especially since both kids' birthdays are close to Christmas.

On Wednesday, she received a surprise present of her own.

Like a lot of shoppers trying to lock in popular presents for their kids, Hynsen put some gifts on layaway at a local Toys "R" Us store back in September, with plans to pay them off and take them home before the holidays.

"Layaway is the only way I can do it," she said. "I have to plan it out."

Wednesday night, Hynsen said the Toys "R" Us store called to tell her an anonymous person had paid off the balance of $215. "Really? Is this a joke? Is this for real?" she recalls asking. "I was shocked!"

"And once the initial shock disappeared, I was, like, wow. I was so thankful," she said. "That's a huge gift to me. Huge gift."

She said the money earmarked for the gifts can now be used to buy clothes and shoes for her kids, ages 3 and 5. "It allows me a little more breathing room," she said.

And Hynsen wasn't alone in her good fortune. The general manager of the store said the person who paid for Hynsen's goods also picked up the tab for four other shoppers as well.

Each person had a balance owing of less than $500, the manager said.

Another benefactor called earlier in the week and paid off a few other layaway accounts, the manager told KATU News.

They put the names of layaway account holders in a hat and drew names at random to keep things fair, the manager said.