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Festive bills paid by secret Santa

A generous resident played Santa and paid off shoppers' bills (AP Photo/Matt Slocum/File)

A secret Santa has generously picked up the bill for several shoppers struggling to pay off goods bought for the festive season.

The Santa, who wishes to remain anonymous, paid a “substantial amount” to cover the numerous layaway orders made at the Phoenix Stores.

People placing layaway orders often do not have a great deal of money, so put down part-payments on items at the start of the season and pay in instalments.

A handful of orders had still not been paid off at the Phoenix Stores last week — and that is when the mystery Santa jumped to shoppers’ aid.

The president and chief executive of the Phoenix Stores, George Grundmuller, said his customers were bowled over with disbelief when they heard the news, and sent messages of gratitude.

Comments included: “Wow, God bless that person”, “Oh my goodness, I’m going to cry!”, “I wish I could pay them back” and, “Seriously? God bless him.”

Mr Grundmuller said: “The Santa called me and said he wanted to pay because normally people making layaway orders do not have a lot of money.

“He didn’t want anyone to know who he was or how much he paid out, he just wanted to give back to the community and spread some Christmas joy. I am just touched that people are so kind.”

Mr Grundmuller said this was not the first time a secret Santa had offered to help settle outstanding bills of complete strangers in Bermuda stores, but this was the first time this particular Santa had approached the store.

The generous deed appears to be a growing trend both in Bermuda and the US.

USA Today reported also that on good Samaritan from Mechanicsburg paid out $50,000 to pay off shoppers’ layaway accounts at a branch of Walmart.

He also wished to remain anonymous, referring to himself only as “Santa B”.