(Reuters) - A Kmart in Maryland was visited by the archangel of all so-called "layaway angels," who made the single largest donation in the country and bought holiday gifts for 175 shoppers, a company spokeswoman said on Friday.
An unnamed person donated $20,543 to pay for gifts financed on layaway by customers at a Kmart about 50 miles southeast of Washington, D.C., said Shannelle Armstrong, a spokeswoman for Sears Holding Corp, which owns Kmart.
It's the biggest known donation in this year's "layaway angels" phenomenon, she said.
Kmart has reported dozens of anonymous donors -- perhaps motivated by the dour financial situation of many Christmas shoppers this year --paying off layaway accounts used by customers to finance gifts in installments.
Layaway donations have occurred in the past, but this year's response is the largest, according to Armstrong. As of Thursday evening, more than $450,000 in layaway payments had been paid by about 1,000 donors.
The first reported donation came in Michigan in early December and donors have since appeared in other states across the country.
(Reporting by Jason Tomassini; Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Jerry Norton)