Pay Away the Layaway pays off items for 88 Dayton-area families

DAYTON — Families in the Miami Valley have been through a lot over the past few months, and an out-of-state nonprofit organization wanted to help.

Now, 88 families don’t have to figure out how to pay for $20,000 worth of clothing, baby supplies and other items.

News Center 7 was there for the special moment when 88 families found out they didn’t have to find a way to pay for $20,000 worth of clothing, baby supplies and other items at the Dayton Mall Burlington Coat Factory.

"So every layaway that you have ... they're being paid off by the Pay Away the Layaway."

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It took a second, and then the group realized what was happening.

“I was so shocked,” said Lea Dewberry of Dayton who said she has been struggling. “I had a baby a month early ... I have six kids, I’m going through a period of time of homelessness, like it’s just been terrible.”

That’s why the Dayton Burlington Coat Factory Manager Jerry Smith said this exciting event came with mixed emotions.

“A little big of joy, a little bit of sadness knowing what they’ve been through,” he said.

But Wednesday was a break from the difficulty for Dewberry.

“It feels incredible. I’m really excited, and put a smile on my kids’ faces,” she said. “Boost up my self-esteem, just my happiness overall.”

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She was one of 88 customers surprised when nonprofit Pay Away the Layaway took care of her list.

The organization is based in New York but has a connection to the Miami Valley, and to News Center 7’s McCall Vrydaghs, chief meteorologist.

“My high school friend Lee Karchawer contacted me. He’s the founder of Pay Away the Layaway,” she said.

After the Memorial Day tornadoes and the Oregon District mass shooting, he wanted to help.

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“The hardship that we’ve been through really this entire year, it felt fantastic more so than I think in another other year to be able to give back,” Vrydaghs said.

Dewberry said she is appreciative of the help.

“Things like this don’t usually happen to me,” she said. “It’s like, you know when you go through a period of, you know, just depression and heartache, you just don’t expect these things to happen.”