Good Samaritans in Lawrence settle strangers’ layaway balances

Less than a week before Christmas, Melody McKenzie got a call from a Wal-Mart in Lawrence asking her to pay either the $87 balance on the karaoke machine she had put on layaway or cancel the purchase.

With money too tight to pay for the Christmas gift she wanted to get her 12-year-old daughter, McKenzie went down to the store Monday and asked the clerk to put the toy back.

She was stunned when she found out she owed only a penny, the Lawrence Journal-World ( ) reported. The clerk told her a good Samaritan had come into the store and paid off her balance, other than 1 cent.

“You always hear about things like this, but you never ever think about being the recipient,” McKenzie said. “It just came at a time when it was so needed.”

McKenzie said she had paid $15 to put the karaoke machine on layaway, but after receiving the call for payment she decided she would instead sew something for her daughter.

“Words cannot express the feeling, unless you’ve been there,” McKenzie said. “Knowing that I wasn’t going to be able to give her anything like that and now knowing that I can.”

Wal-Mart manager Shawn Jacobson said that since Thanksgiving, about 10 people had come in and paid off strangers’ layaway balances, amounting to between $2,500 and $3,000 in payments.

McKenzie said she has degenerative joint disease and cannot work, so she and her daughter live off $710 per month in disability benefits. Her daughter is her biological granddaughter whom she adopted, and she said the girl’s biological parents are not in the picture.

McKenzie said she thanks all the good Samaritans who have paid off layaway balances – especially hers – for making such a difference.

“It’s a beautiful thing that you are doing, and even if you do not know how important it is, it’s so very important to those people that do not expect anything,” McKenzie said.