Christmas came early for layaway customers at the Walmart store in Uniondale.
An anonymous "secret Santa" walked into the store and paid off every single item on layaway, delighting dozens of customers.
Shopper Vanessa Rodriguez, a mother of four, ages 8, 10, 12 and 14, said she was "patiently waiting in a long line" at the store's layaway department on Tuesday when she overheard a nearby woman crying.
At first she was concerned, but it turned out she was crying tears of joy because an anonymous donor had paid off her account, Rodriguez said. "A few minutes later the cashier told everyone in line that the same donor had paid off everyone's account. We were all really surprised and happy but just so, so very grateful."
Customers said they were instructed by a Walmart employee to check their emails to confirm that the balance on their accounts was at zero. The store later posted a picture on its Facebook account showing several dozen receipts along with a message thanking the donor.
"When customers quietly pay off others' layaway items, we are reminded how good people can be. We're honored to be a small part of these random acts of kindness," the store said in a statement to News 12.
Store officials did not release the dollar amount paid off or the number of customers helped.
Rodriguez, who works full-time and goes to school, wouldn't reveal what item she had on layaway, saying "it's a Christmas present and I wouldn't want my daughter to find out what it is."
"Times are hard," she said. "You just want to make sure your kids get what they wish for so I am definitely beyond grateful to this person … who has made my Christmas that much more meaningful."