11/08/2012 12:25 pm ET Updated Feb 27, 2015

Be a Hero This Holiday Season -- Cape Not Included

Have you ever noticed how many successful superhero movies there are? The Avengers. X-Men. Batman; Spiderman. Why are they so popular? Is it because people like seeing good prevail? Or do people like the idea that there are others who have the ability to make a difference in the lives of the less fortunate?

Every once in a while, though, we come across real-life heroes. Not those whose jobs are heroic by nature, like teachers, firefighters, policemen or members of our armed forces. But your average, un-extraordinary person, who does an extraordinary deed which positively impacts someone's life. Wish Upon a Hero relies on just this type of person.

Last year at the holidays, many nameless heroes emerged in a single bound, visiting retail stores across the country, paying off the layaway balances of complete strangers. Then these layaway superheroes were gone in the blink of an eye. They didn't want credit or publicity -- they just wanted to do something good.

A few things bothered me about this. Those heroes didn't know who they were helping -- they went to a store and randomly paid off a layaway account. Also, if the recipient of this act of kindness wanted to thank his or her layaway hero, there was no way for the two to connect. Finally, it made me wonder, why doesn't everyone become a layaway hero? Strength in numbers... right?

I decided to do something constructive about my concerns, using social helping network Wish Upon a Hero. When I launched this site five years ago, its mission was -- and still is -- to enable anyone to post a wish and encourage everyone to grant those wishes. More than 95,000 wishes have been granted by everyday heroes since 2007. And as we approach the holidays, the number of wishes posted every day nearly doubles. A lot of people need help.

This year, we are taking our mission one step further and are uniting layaway heroes. There is now a place on the site where potential heroes can view specific layaway wishes, be in contact with the wishee, and grant that wish.

Among the many good things about this is that the hero can remain anonymous if he or she chooses -- but the recipient can still thank them. The process is simple. A wisher creates an account and posts a layaway wish for the whole world to read. Heroes can search for layaway wishes by location or specific details and make an informative decision before they grant a wish. Most retail stores allow people to pay off a layaway for any of their locations.

My wish for this holiday season? That layaway heroes will come out of the woodwork, grant a wish and make a difference in someone's life -- no cape required!