'Layaway angel' strikes at Kentucky Kmarts and Wal-Marts

The "layaway angel" has been in Central Kentucky.

Kelsey Smith says she's the latest beneficiary of this Christmas' biggest gift trend — an anonymous layaway payoff — that has spread like a charitable wildfire among Kmarts and some Wal-Marts.

For Smith and her family, the generosity could not have come at a better time. Her year-old daughter, Addison, was in the hospital earlier this year with pneumonia, and Smith, who works in a dental office, said she and fiancé James Chapman have been struggling to pay medical bills.

Both of them work, and Chapman is about to finish school at Spencerian College, where he studies biomedical engineering.

Smith had hoped to finish paying for her Christmas items and take home some books, dolls, Minnie Mouse items and a stroller for Addison by Friday. The total cost of the items was about $200.

Smith initially was certain that her aunt, Terry Aldridge of Nicholasville, had paid off all but a penny on the account."They told me a Secret Santa had paid it, and I could come and get my layaway out," she said. "I was beside myself. ... I was going to pick it up Friday, before Christmas, when I got paid.

"Smith's isn't the only layaway account to be paid. June Ridenour, a manager at the Lexington Kmart on Nicholasville Road, said 20 to 30 accounts had been paid off since late last week. (An article about the nationwide trend appeared in Friday's Herald-Leader.)

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