BURBANK (CBSLA.com) —  When Letty Almaraz brought her 11-year-old grandson, Gavin, into a Toys “R” Us store in Burbank to get some Christmas gift ideas, she said his eyes lit up when he saw a Fisher-Price Power Wheels Wild Thing battery-powered vehicle that can spin 360º.

“I think I can fit in it. That’s what made me want to get it too,” the grandmother joked.

Her 10-year-old granddaughter, Liv, fell in love with a toy puppy.

So Almaraz put both items on layaway because she knew she couldn’t afford to come up with all of the money up front. After all, the battery-powered toy vehicle alone costs more than $300.

When the phone rang on Tuesday, and someone from Toys “R” Us told her it was about her layaways, she feared the worst.

The money she earned from babysitting wasn’t enough to cover the balance, and the bill was due. She wasn’t prepared for what she heard next.

The Toys “R” Us store clerk told her that “someone’s paid off your layaway, and I am like: What are you talking about?”

Apparently, a secret Santa had come into the store and paid off the layaways for three customers, including Almaraz, who was struggling to cobble enough cash to make her grandchildren’s Christmas wishes come true.

“I can’t even begin to tell you. They’re going to be so excited because they don’t ask for much, and this is like – really? It’s going to be really exciting,” the happy grandmother said.

So what would she want to say to her anonymous benefactor?

“Thank you from the bottom of my heart because you have no idea I was so stressed for the last few days,”  Almarez said as her eyes welled up with tears.

The story of this Christmas miracle brought tears to the eyes of other shoppers at the store too.

“I think the Christmas spirit’s alive. It’s nice to see somebody out there willing to give and not looking for anything, but just the simple pleasure of giving,” Tom Marshall said.

If you would like to be a secret Santa, go to a customer service desk in any number of stores, tell them how much money you want to offer, and they’ll let you know how many holiday wishes you can grant this year.


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