Conn. tragedy spurs Pagosa Springs woman’s generosity

A number of Archuleta County residents will have a merrier Christmas thanks to a random act of kindness performed at the local ALCO discount store last week.

An anonymous benefactor arrived at the store Tuesday with a plan – to pay off every item on layaway, leaving behind only notes including her motive and asking that the kindness be passed on.

“In memory of the loved ones’ lives in Newtown, Conn. Merry Christmas God Bless!! This act of kindness was performed especially for you. Please offer an act of kindness to someone else, and pass this card on to them,” the notes read.

Michelle McGowan, store manager, said the woman, who wished to remain anonymous, came in to the store and asked to pay off everyone’s layaway, which totaled close to $5,000.

McGowan said she thought the woman would rethink the request when told the amount, but she didn’t.

“I told her, ‘It’s awesome to know people like you still exist,’” McGowan said.

McGowan said the woman reported feeling bad for the children lost and families affected by the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting and, with grandchildren of her own, wanted to do something in memory of those lives lost.

After the items were paid for, McGowan had the task of calling everyone to tell them the layaway bills for their items had been paid.

“It was very touching,” McGowan said, adding she heard many people crying, with some telling stories of plans to delay paying bills to buy gifts they had on layaway, others in shock and some wondering why.

“… Just because we can’t thank her in person, I would like for her to know how she touched so many people’s hearts,” one recipient said in an email. “I had 2 layaway bags with presents for my kids and trying to figure out how to get them out, it was my Christmas, and I felt blessed from that moment on.”

McGowan said of the act of kindness, “It just … made my Christmas.”

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