MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Two former University of Memphis football players who went on to the NFL surprised several Bluff City families on Friday by paying off their layaway balances.
Frank Trotter was the Tigers Defensive Player of the Year in 2010 and after graduation signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars. His cousin, Ron Leary, was a star on the Memphis O-line from 2007 to 2011. He signed with the Dallas Cowboys and now plays for the Denver Broncos. The big men teamed up with national non-profit Pay Away the Layaway to play for Santa’s team this holiday season.
“Christmas is a time for giving,” Trotter told WMC Action News 5, as he watched surprised Memphians show up at the East Memphis Burlington to experience a Christmas miracle.
Store manager Keshia Goss called the lucky customers on the night before to tell them their layaways had been paid off.
“I had one lady who was just hollering in the background,” said Goss. “she was so excited. And some people were like are you serious? Is this true? Let me look up the number and make sure it’s not a joke!”
Deanna Mercer said she didn’t believe it until clerks handed her bags filled with the clothing she carefully selected for her kids.
“It’s truly a blessing,” she said. “I thank you from the bottom of my heart. My children thank you!”
Trotter, Leary and Pay Away the Layaway paid off more than $8,000 worth of layaway balances. Leary created the Ron Leary Reach Foundation specifically to help children and their families. He puts on an elite youth football camp every year, and his foundation teamed up with Pay Away the Layaway last year to cover layaway balances at a department store in his hometown of Baton Rouge. He wasn't able to attend the Memphis event, but Trotter says they knew at an early age they wanted to help others.
“We all grew up in a humble neighborhood,” said Trotter. “and we were always taught to give back regardless if you didn’t have much. So to be in a position to be able to bless others and a lot of other people, it makes him feel really good.”
Because of their generosity, Enessicia White’s three-year-old daughter will now have plenty of gifts to open on Christmas morning.
“I want to say thank you,” White told us. “honestly, I really do. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.”
Store manager Keshia Goss says the former Tigers stars took care of layaway balances for 20 families.
“It’s very exciting,” said Goss. “it just gives you that oh! feeling.”
“There’s nothing but God,” said recipient Deanna Mencer. “Nothing but God. I really appreciate this. There are no words to describe how I feel right now.”