On Thursday, the actor and producer Tyler Perry announced on Instagram that he would pay off layaway accounts in two stores in the Atlanta region, totaling $432,635.
Days earlier, Gayle Benson, a billionaire philanthropist and owner of the New Orleans Saints, donated $93,502 to pay off accounts for 408 customers.
LeMia Jenkins, a spokeswoman for Walmart, confirmed Mr. Perry’s donation and said it covered 1,487 customers. On Instagram, Mr. Perry said the offer would apply to items placed on layaway before 9:30 a.m. Thursday. “I was trying to do this anonymously but oh well!!!” he wrote.
Zena Williams, manager of Walmart on Tchoupitoulas Street in New Orleans, where Ms. Benson paid off debts, said one customer was so moved that “she thanked Jesus right there, giving praise at the cash register.” Others walked away in shock. “We have so many customers on a fixed income,” Ms. Williams said. “Layaways are key.”
Mrs. Benson declined through a spokesman to be interviewed. Hers, along with Mr. Perry’s, is one of a number of charitable gifts earmarked for layaway purchases at Walmart in recent weeks.
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