The US has a new Christmas tradition. Wealthy secret Santas are popping up across the country and paying off toyshop bills to spread festive cheer and help struggling families.
Mystery donors have called at three branches of Toys R Us in the north-eastern state of Massachusetts to pay off layaway accounts - plans that allow customers to spread the cost of Christmas over several weeks.
In the biggest windfall, a visitor described by staff as a "bubbly older woman" hugged the manager at a store in Bellingham, south-west of Boston, and then went through each layaway account paying them off - at a cost of more than $20,000.
"If you have it, give it," said the anonymous woman, according to The Milford Daily News.
One employee said the woman told her that she would "sleep better at night" knowing all the bills had been settled.
Days later another store reported a similar episode. This time the bill was $19,600 to close 125 accounts.
Shops around the country have reported an increasing number of "layaway angels" in recent years.
A spokeswoman for Toys R Us said: "It's what the holiday are all about."
A customer whose tab was paid this week described her delight to The Daily News when she received a phone call telling her a stranger had paid her bill and she could collect the toys she had chosen for her sons.
"I almost wanted to cry," she said. "It was only $50, but to me that's a lot of money, and that someone would go and do that gave me chills."
Customers usually have 90 days to pay the bills and then collect the toys. However, Toys R US sets deadlines before Christmas, making the payments particularly timely.
And celebrities have also got in on the act, with a string of American Football stars paying off families' holiday bills.