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Layaways Paid Off by National Charity Bring New Meaning to Season of Giving

Inspiring America: Secret Santas Bring Surprise Gifts to Holiday Shoppers 1:39

When the Dallas store manager called over a loudspeaker earlier this month, Diane Neroe and others thought they were in trouble.

They had thousands of dollars in toys and clothes on layaway. Neroe's purchases were far from paid off.

"I said, what could this be?" Neroe told NBC News.

There to meet the group were NBA players Devin Harris and Dwight Powell of the Dallas Mavericks. They had a message: the shoppers' debts had been paid off. Christmas, it seemed, had come early.

For Mary Jackson, it was a "blessing."

Their gifts are for children who might otherwise get nothing. "I just want to see kids happy, even if i don't get nothing back in return," Jackson said.

Pay Away the Layaway, a national charity that collects donations online that cover tens of thousands of dollars in layaway accounts, orchestrated the payments. This year, the charity said it paid off layaway debts in 30 cities across the nation. They've even enlisted NBA athletes, like Harris and Powell, to surprise bewildered customers.

Harris told NBC News "we do it for" the reactions that people give them when they learn of the surprise gift.

Neroe said the beneficiaries of the gifts will be her 12 grandchildren. "I am so happy. God is good," she said.