Secret Santa revealed after paying off layaway

Posted at 5:27 PM, Dec 18, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-18 17:31:22-05

His suit is navy blue with pinstripes, modest compared to the jolly old man.  But Bob Frankel allowed us to lift his cover; he is the Walmart secret Santa.

"I felt it was the right thing to do, but I didn't want it to be done by ego or recognition or advertising or this interview or anything else.  I'm sort of embarrassed, to be honest with you, that word got out," said Bob Frankel, owner of Frankel Automotive. 

Frankel only agreed to do the interview because his big gift got out.  Calls are coming into the dealership after he wrote a check for $32,000 to clear the layaway shelves at the Cockeysville store. 

"I think as a parent there's nothing more horrifying to have to make a decision that your child may get a Christmas gift or may not get a Christmas gift," said Frankel. 

The seed was planted before Black Friday.  Frankel, who owns the property where the Supercenter is located, started noticing the carts with some basic goods.

"The carts had all kinds of clothing in it, which was really good.  A couple of carts had some houseware items like silverware or plastic forks," said Frankel.  

Then Thursday was the deadline.  Customers had to pay off their items or they would be put back on the shelves. 

A grandmother, who wants to remain anonymous, is keeping $160.  "It was uh, is it going to get my car fixed or I'm going to get my baby's toys off layaway," she said.

Santa Frankel took away the decision.  In fact, he heard more families were in trouble, so he gave about $10,000 on top of his layaway gift.

His wife found out after the fact, and we are all learning he's done this for years.  But this time, the check was bigger, so Santa was uncovered and customers are dashing through the aisles.

"It was sort of a gift from my heart to them.  You know, I just love people, I love kids.  It's important to me that Christmas is celebrated with kids that get gifts and feel really good about themselves," said Frankel.    

A Walmart spokesman verified the gift and told us other random acts of kindness have happened in stores in Florida, Pennsylvania, and Ohio.