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Mystery benefactor named Paul pays off Fargo layaway contracts

FARGO - For 19 families who had gifts on layaway at Kmart on South University Drive, Christmas got merrier this week thanks to a mystery benefactor.

A man who identified himself only as Paul contacted store manager Nick Bosh last week saying he wanted to put money toward layaway contracts - specifically those for toys, children's clothing and other family items. This week, the man and an associate visited the store to donate more than $2,000, paying off the contracts of 19 families.

"It was absolutely outstanding," said Bosh. "I've never experienced anything like it."

It's one of a spate of layways donations - most of them anonymous - that have cropped up in Kmarts both regionally and nationwide this holiday season. Many, like the Fargo donation, have focused on items for young children.

Company officials say they haven't done anything to solicit or spur on donors.

Bosh said when he called families to let them know their orders had been paid off, some of them were speechless. Some said they didn't think they would have been able to pay off the items in time for Christmas. One started to cry.

He extended warm thanks to the donors.

"They should feel good about what they did," he said. "They made 19 families' Christmases a lot more joyous."