Layaways paid off in surprise at Panzer Exchange

Story and photos by John Reese
USAG Stuttgart Public Affairs

Layaway angels paid a visit to the Panzer Exchange to pay off back-to-school layaways for seven garrison families, Aug. 28.

The Army & Air Force Exchange Service teamed up with the nonprofit organization, Pay Away the Layaway, to help shoppers and their families get ready for the new school year by paying off 22 layaway items totaling more than $700.

“It’s a privilege for the Exchange to be a part of giving back to our Panzer families, who make so many sacrifices,” said Michael Ryan.

Exchange manager Michael Ryan presents a paid layaway bundle to Staff Sgt. Class Darnell Frieson, one of the seven families who had their pending purchases paid in full, Aug. 28.

“It was a surprise,” said Neichelle Vining, who works on Patch Barracks for the Defense Information Systems Agency. “I got a phone call the other day. It’s funny, because when I originally put my items on layaway, I wasn’t even sure if they did layaway any more because I hadn’t used it in so long. It was definitely a surprise!”

Sgt. 1st Class Walter Navarro said he received a phone call telling him his layaway was paid and ready for pickup.

“They said I’ve got a layaway that’s been paid for by a good-hearted benefactor,” said Sgt. 1st Class Walter Navarro. “We’re really happy to be a part of this community and benefit from this event.

Navarro’s son, Arthur was more interested in the cake that was about to be cut than the school supplies.

“I want cake!” Arthur declared.

He didn’t have to wait long. Arthur and dozens of other lucky shoppers were happily enjoying a big slice immediately after after the layaways were all presented.

The cake begins to rapidly disappear moments after the layaways were presented.