Layaway angels spread Christmas cheer in Boise

Layaway angels spread Christmas cheer in Boise

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by Kim Fields

Bio | Email | Follow: @KimFieldsKTVB

KTVB.COM

Posted on December 19, 2011 at 7:09 PM

Updated Thursday, Nov 7 at 5:57 PM

BOISE -- Perfect strangers are picking up the tabs for holiday shoppers in need. It's happening at layaway counters in Kmart stores across the country, including Idaho.

And the best part is that customers have no idea what's happened.

No one knows for sure who came up with the idea. But now that the goodwill has started, it doesn't seem to be stopping anytime soon.

"I was like, ahhh, I couldn't believe it," said Christina Harris, a Kmart shopper in Pennsylvania.

"It's the best gift I ever received," said a Kmart shopper in Michigan.

"The person who did this -- I just want to say thank you," said another Kmart shopper in Nebraska.

And now it’s also happening in Boise.

"It's snowballed.  It's like people just saw it and they thought it was cool," said Pat Rodgers, Kmart employee in Boise.

Random acts of kindness -- happening so frequently now, there's a name for them -- "layaway angels" -- people who anonymously pay off layaway accounts for others in need.

"It's a very nice gesture what people are doing," said Rodgers.

Rodgers helped his first layaway angel on Friday.

"A lady came in and she kind of shocked me because she wanted to pay on this layaway.  And I said are you a friend of hers or something.  And she said ‘no,’" said Rodgers.

She paid off a hundred dollars.

"That person actually came in that day after this lady had showed up.  And I told her that she only owed a dollar on her layaway. And she was just stunned," said Rodgers.

And Monday morning there were two more surprise payments.

"They didn't want to know anything about the customer.  They just wanted to help them out," said Jane Nemeth, Kmart employee.

One layaway angel paid $500 on eight layaway accounts.

"She told me she's doing it basically because when she was younger somebody did something like that for her Christmas and she thought that would be a nice way to pay that back," said Rodgers.

The Boise Kmart says so far about 15 to 20 layaway angels have contributed to 41 accounts.  It's added up to more than $4,000.

Rodger says Kmart shoppers and employees have been stunned by the outpouring on generosity.

"As an employee it's been fun to see the reaction of the people that have come in when it's happened," said Rodgers.

"It's a good feeling all around for everyone," said Nemeth.

One woman called KTVB in tears after stopping by Kmart to make her last payment for toys for her four grandchildren and learning that a layaway angel had paid for it.

She wants to thank whoever it was that made this an unforgettable Christmas.

The Kmart in Boise says most of the time the layaway angels pick people who have already made some payment toward their accounts, and who have mostly toys on their lists.

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