POST FALLS, Idaho -- A secret Santa surprised three local families at an Idaho Walmart this week, helping the families enjoy Christmas with gifts they were struggling to buy.
The people helped by the secret Santa were using layaway at the store. One of those people, Amanda Johnson, said she would not have paid off Christmas presents for her kids in time if it were not for the generous gift of that stranger.
"Money is really tight, with rent and bills and things, we don't have a lot of money to just go shove out and buy a lot of presents," Amanda said.
She and her husband have three kids. Each wanted an Android tablet for Christmas, so Johnson started saving in October on layaway at the Post Falls Walmart.
"The one big gift is really important to them,” said Johnson. “They do good all year. They really earn it."
Payments were due this week and Johnson was still far from getting to the $300 needed for her kids' gifts.
"We were really worried about how we were going to make it all happen, cause you know they have their deadline."
She still needed more than $200 dollars to pay off the presents, but when Johnson went in on Tuesday to make her next payment, the Walmart employee would not take her money.
"She looks in the computer and says, 'oh you're one of them."
Johnson didn't know what that meant and worried something was wrong.
"I thought I was in trouble,” she said. “I thought maybe they lost a payment."
But the staff member explained her gifts had been paid for thanks to the kindness of a stranger.
"I start crying and then she comes out with my box [with] another lady and they're both crying, and we're all hugging,” Johnson said.
And Johnson decided to pay it forward after getting help from her secret Santa, using some of the money she had saved for layaway to help someone else in the store pay for their Christmas presents.