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A spirit of giving

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The holiday “angels” are making their rounds again this year.

What began last year is becoming a seasonal tradition as “angels” are visiting department stores and paying off the balances on layaway accounts.

The anonymous donors stopping at Toys R Us stores across the country have paid about 600 layaway orders, which in turn benefits other less fortunate children. The company donates $200 worth of toys to Toys for Tots for each generous act.

Charitable donors have paid about $9,300 toward layaway accounts at one California Kmart, USA Today reported. Nationwide, Walmart reports that the layaway angels have made donations ranging from $40 to $27,000 with a single donation of $1,300 at a Hanover, Mass., store.

Anonymity is a part of the giving. Donors ask store personnel to identify accounts that have toys or other items for children, but neither benefactors nor recipients are identified.

The trend is a sign of changing times, according to Lisa Dietlin, a Chicago philanthropic adviser. Americans, she told USA Today, “are turning away from the traditional commercialism of the holidays” and are “instead asking, “How can I help those in need?”

It is another way generous Americans reach out to share their blessings in the spirit of the season whether by dropping coins in a Salvation Army Red Kettle, putting a gift under an angel tree or donating to a local food pantry.

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