LADY LAKE — When a Central Florida financial planner overheard a woman in the layaway department at a local Walmart talking about the difficulties of paying off her items, he decided to play Santa Claus.
Greg Parady sprang into action on Saturday, paying more than $20,000 to cover many items that had been placed on layaway at the store.
The owner of Parady Financial Group was at the store to collect bicycles for a Toys-for-Tots charity event. But he warmed the hearts of many before he left.
"I haven't felt like that about a holiday in a long time," said Debra Davis, a Walmart employee who helped Parady go through the layaway records and, one-by-one, pay off or pay down the balances.
Davis told the Villages Daily Sun that Parady's generosity "resonated through the whole store and is still resonating with employees."
In all, Walmart officials say, Parady donated money to pay down the accounts of 76 customers. A handful of customers who were at the store had their balances paid in full. Others had their balances paid down.
A single mother and a woman who is battling cancer and had almost given up hope of getting a new television were among those helped by Parady's gift.
Walmart officials say the financial planner told them that about half of the money came from his personal credit card. The other half came from his company.
Cindy Nazzaro, the managing partner at Parady Financial, told the newspaper she's not surprised by his act of kindness.
"I've known him for years, and he just does things because he feels like doing them," she said. "It brought us all to tears … and made me realize we work in an awesome community. This is Greg's way of giving back to the community, paying them back for how gracious they've been to us."