MIDDLETOWN — When Union Beach resident Brittany Reed got home last Friday, she checked her Sears app, expecting to see a balance of $70 on her layaway account.

Instead, it showed  $0.00.

Reed said she called the Sears store in Middletown to make sure it wasn't an error. But she was told a man prefers to be anonymous had paid off her balance and others ahead of the holiday.

Because of the man's generosity, Reed said, she could rest more comfortably — knowing she could buy her son a holiday present without it putting extra strain on her budget.

"I was in tears when (the manager) told me that," she said. "I've been struggling this year and that was literally a huge help."

Angela Somma, the manager of the store, said the man helped three people this year, and has done the same thing for several years in the past. She said she has worked with him in the past to find layaways for people with children's clothing on their list. The man, she said, has a budget for how much he can spend, and they work together to find the people to fit his budget.

Like Reed, Somma said, many of the people he helps are struggling financially — she's not the first left in tears after learning a balance has been paid off.

Having gone to the store in Middletown since she was a child, Reed said it was already one of her favorite places to shop before this anonymous stranger helped her out.

"You rarely see people do good things on their own anymore without wanting credit," she said.

Reed said she has given to others when she can — particularly four-legged friends. Saying she believes "people and animal deserve help when needed." Reed said she has been involved in animal rescue efforts for a decade, and was glad to help one family in need during the Thanksgiving holiday.

While she doesn't know who the man was who helped her, Reed said she had a message for him none the less.

"Whomever this person is, I have the biggest thank you and appreciation for them," she said.

Reed had originally expressed her thanks to the stranger on a Facebook page for Hazlet residents.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/982384565106079/permalink/1767127543298440/

"To whomever paid off my Sears layaway I truly appreciate it," she said in the post. "You've made a tough time a little easier and certainly put a smile on my face after some bad times."

Last month, a south Jersey businessman paid for thousands of dollars' worth of layaway items for customers of a Cherry Hill Toys R Us store as well.

“I wish I could find a way to repay him! He truly just made my heart so happy,” Ivonne Torres wrote on Facebook.

The above post is sponsored by Children’s Specialized Hospital Foundation, which supports the programs and services of the hospital. Donations to Children's Specialized Hospital Foundation go directly to helping pioneer new specialized care and serve more children in need. To help, or for more information: visit childrens-specialized.org; find Children's Specialized Hospital on Facebook, or follow on it on Twitter.

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Contact reporter Adam Hochron at 609-359-5326 or Adam.Hochron@townsquaremedia.com

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