South Jersey families get surprise layaway payoff

PLESANTVILLE, N.J. - December 24, 2013

We've heard about it before but this time of the year, it's just always good to see.

It was one surprise after another in a Pleasantville, New Jersey K-Mart.

Lee Karchawer, from New York, was playing a plain-clothes Santa, swiping his credit again and again.

Karchawer paid off the layaway balances for dozens of customers who were picking up clothes and toys for their children.

"I was totally shocked. I'm still in shock, I still can't believe there is an organization that does that," said Capree Caldwell.

'Pay Away the Layaway' is an organization Karchawer started in 2011.

This year he and a team of volunteers have hit several stores across the country paying a lot of money per deserving customer.

He says this year more than 400 people from 40 states donated more than $20,000 through his website.

"For me it's great to be able to represent all of these people who are anonymously donating, then go off and pay these layaway accounts off and then see the people who come to pick them up or surprise them when we get there," said Karchawer.

Every recipient was thankful for the charitable act.

"It makes me feel blessed and hopeful that there are still some good people left in the world," said Geminese Usher.

While some were surprised at the counter, others received a phone call from the store with the good news.

Now these parents will have a little extra cash in their pockets this Christmas.

Jason Sales says he'll need it for his 1-year-old twins.

"I love them to death and this is for them. I just want to make sure they have a good first Christmas," said Sales.

Our area was Karchawer's last stop before Christmas. He says more and more donations roll in every year so he's hoping he'll be able to spread even more holiday cheer in 2014.

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