As a special surprise, former TV host Montel Williams made the announcement virtually to those lucky families.
Military families were asked to come to their NEX. Once they arrived, Williams virtually surprised them with the news.
“My military service spanned over 22 years in the Marine Corps and the United States Navy," Williams said. "So I’m honored to have an opportunity to share a message with our military families.
"Today I’m here to thank you for your service and thank military service members for their courage, their determination and their sacrifice," he said. "I also know all too often that sacrifice in silence and that the holidays are particularly hard for military families on a budget.”
NEX stores from all around the world participated, with each creating that special moment for those deserving families. This is the fifth consecutive year Pay Away the Layaway has paid off NEX customers’ layaways. However, this was the grandest year yet, with nearly $65,000 worth of children’s toys, clothing and goods paid for in full.
As part of this year’s surprise, 42 families at NEX Great Lakes, Illinois, and NEX Memphis, Tennessee, also had their layaway accounts paid in full by Pay Away the Layaway and its featured sponsor, Gordon Hayward and the Hayward Family.
“As the grandson of a World War II Navy veteran, I am proud to support the men and women who serve us,” said Lee Karchawer, founder of Pay Away the Layaway. "Pay Away the Layaway is pleased to be able to return kindness in our small way during a tumultuous year for many.
"We wish the children of our Navy families a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!”
Participating NEX locations included New London, Connecticut; NEX San Diego and Port Hueneme, California; NEX Rota, Spain; NEX Sigonella, Sicily; NEX Naples, Italy; NEX Yokosuka, Sasebo and Atsugi, Japan; NEX Pensacola and Mayport, Florida; NEX Guam; NEX Pearl Harbor; NEX Kitsap-Bangor, Bremerton and Whidbey Island, Washington; NEX Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; and NEX Oceana, Little Creek and Norfolk, Virginia.
From Dec. 17 to Dec. 22, 250 military families in 22 NEX locations received the news that their layaway accounts for children’s items, totaling nearly $65,000, were paid in full by Pay Away the Layaway, Inc.
Kristine M. Sturkie
Subject specific information for the media
Updates on sailors from around the Fleet
Official Navy statements
Given by Navy leadership
HASC, SASC and Congressional testimony