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Parking lot ‘Santa’ brightens holiday for sisters, children


Times have been tough lately for Sarah L. Finley-Colin. The latest blow came Tuesday when she went to Kmart to cancel Christmas layaways for her two children.

But shortly after walking out of the store, the spirit of the holidays came upon her in the damp Kmart parking lot.

“My daughter said it was Santa,” Ms. Finley-Colin said.

If it was Santa, on Tuesday he dressed in a blue and white sweater, sweat pants and a baseball cap. That’s the description that Ms. Finley-Colin gave of the man, in his “late 30s, maybe early 40s,” who followed her and her sister, Rebecca L. Eugene, out of the store. With them were Ms. Finley-Colin’s daughter, Leah A., 2, and Ms. Eugene’s son, Jahmari K. Best, 3.

The man stopped the four in the parking lot.

“He comes up behind us and says, ‘Here, I believe you forgot these,’” Ms. Finley-Colin said.

“My sister and I were like, ‘No, we didn’t forget anything.’ And he goes, ‘No! Here — you forgot these.’”

There were two Kmart bags. One, for Jahmari, contained a collection of Matchbox cars. Leah was handed a bag containing a Mini Mouse doll dress-up set.

“I didn’t know what to say,” Ms. Finley-Colin said. “I was shocked. Because that’s just a very rare thing; the kindness that it showed and the thought. It was just amazing to experience something like that.”

What was more amazing, she said, is that the gifts were on the wish lists of the two children.

The sisters said they had never seen the man before.

“My sister said she saw him at the cash-out aisle next to ours cashing out,” Ms. Finley-Colin said. “We were in the store for a little bit, walking around. We had things to pick up. I don’t know if he overheard our conversation about financially being tough this year for Christmas. It’s hard to say.”

Ms. Finley-Colin, who lives at East Hills Apartments, Ohio Street, said she lost her job at Walmart in October and is going through a divorce.

“It’s been very rough,” she said. “I had to take off my Christmas layaway. I don’t know if he overheard that.”

She said she hopes to spread Tuesday’s act of kindness.

“It was so inspiring,” she said. “You can help anybody, (like) somebody in back of you who is lacking a quarter for milk.”

Ms. Finley-Colin and her sister were so shocked by the gifts that they didn’t see what type of vehicle the stranger got into.

“I didn’t know how I was going to give my kids a Christmas, but this act of kindness just overwhelmed me with joy,” she said. “It shows there are people out there who have it in their heart to do this for other people and not expect anything in return.”

But she has one more Christmas wish.

“I just hope he sees this” story, she said of her parking lot Santa.

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