- Associated Press - Tuesday, December 16, 2014

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) - Shaundrica Nunn and Alesia Young sat side by side near the layaway counter at a Walmart store in Birmingham, surprised that they had been called to the store because they had won $50 gift cards.

They were even more surprised to learn the Birmingham Police Department Special Response Team K-9 Unit set up the whole thing to surprise them by paying off their Christmas layaway.

“I’m so happy. I can’t believe this,” said Nunn, mother of two daughters. “It’s a blessing. God is good, that’s all I can say.”

Sgt. Heath Boackle and Officer Metz Davis said they came up with the idea after seeing Tim Tebow do the same thing last week on a segment for “Good Morning America.” In that special, Tebow surprised a woman at Walmart in Orlando and paid off her $700 bill.

“It was a great act of kindness,” Boackle said of Tebow. “We looked at it as a way to get out in the community here in Birmingham and give back.”

Police and Walmart worked together to pull off the surprise. Davis said they asked specifically for the store to pick out customers who had bought items for small children.

A Walmart manager did just that, and then called Nunn and Young to tell them to be at the store at 6:15 p.m. Monday to pick up gift cards they had won. It was the last day to pay off items on layaway for Christmas, so the women were planning to be there anyway.

The officers paid off the tabs for both women - $200 for one, and $281 for the other. The women sat nearby, with no idea what was happening just around the aisle from them.

The officers then wheeled out buggies full of toys, which the women immediately recognized as their own. Boackle told them they had paid off their bills, and both women jumped up to hug the officers.

“Me and my friend were just talking about secret Santas and my baby’s grandma just passed and she always helped out with Christmas,” Nunn said. “I’m still in shock.”

Young said some of the toys she bought were for her grandchildren and the others for children in her church. “I wanted to buy everybody at church something, and now I’ve had some help,” she said.

With the money they were going to use to pay their bills, Young said she is going to buy more gifts for the children in her neighborhood. Nunn said she now has money to buy her 6-year-old daughter the gift she most wants - a puppy.

“She writes a Christmas list every day,” Nunn said. “She even had the teacher to send home a letter to say she wanted a dog. Everything’s good now.”

Boackle said members of the K-9 unit, made up of 12 officers, used their own money to pay the bills. “People relate the police department in a bad light sometimes, and especially the K-9 Unit with the history of this department.”

He said the message was this: “Remember the reason for the season, and never take some things for granted,” he said. “This time of year is usually when acts of kindness happen. We need to keep it going year round. “

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