HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Secret santas called "layaway angels" are spreading holiday cheer at a retail chain in Hawaii. Anonymous donors are going to Kmart stores and paying off the layaway balances of complete strangers. Some of the accounts are worth hundreds of dollars.
"I was like, 'What? Are you for real?' Couldn't believe it, like who would do something like that?" said Ewa Beach resident JoAnn Torres.
Torres set aside clothing and other items as Christmas gifts for her five children. Someone paid off her $85 balance at the Waikele store.
She had this message for the donor, "Thank you so much. Have a Merry Christmas!"
"They're just basically coming to layaway and say, 'Hey we want to make someone's Christmas merry.' So they want to pay off a layaway of an in need family," explained Russ Shokunbi, layaway associate at the Kmart in Waikele.
More than 8 angels have come in during the last few days at the Iwilei store. The first one paid off four tabs.
"He appeared just like an everyday customer. Walked in shorts, slippers, and he had a child with him and he was talking to the child showing some values. That was awesome," said Darcy Taisacan, manager at Kmart Iwilei.
The stores call the customers to let them know about the surprise. Many of the shoppers don't believe it until they see it.
"After they come to the store and after they go through picking up the merchandise. There's no words to describe it."
The trend started last week at Kmart stores in the Midwest.
"I thought oh, okay cool. I didn't think it would happen here but it did so who would have thought?" said Shokunbi.
With many families struggling to pay their bills, there is hope the random acts of kindness will continue to spread.
"Every day everyone works so hard trying to make ends meet, and to actually have people out there who make the time to find deep down in their souls and spirits and say, 'Let's go out there help somebody else.' Paying it forward," said Taisacan.
"Keep coming, please. People really appreciate it. It's nice to see," Shokunbi said.
A layaway angel also visited the Kmart in Kapolei on Friday. The store manager said someone paid off at least 15 layaway tabs and then handed out $100 bills to shoppers.