Dozens of Bellingham Kmart shoppers learned firsthand about the Christmas spirit Saturday night, as a mystery donor paid for thousands of dollars in layaway items and bought gift cards for last-minute holiday purchases.
“It was so awesome,” said Kmart customer service worker Tiffany Peter on Tuesday. “We had some left over, so we got to continue that Secret Santa theme yesterday (Monday), too.”
Dawn Samora, an assistant manager at the retailer’s Sunset Square location, said an anonymous local resident approached store managers about 6 p.m. on Christmas Eve, saying he wanted to pay for all layaway items that were obviously gifts for children – to the tune of about $2,000. He also bought some $3,600 in $50 gift cards that were distributed to cashiers, with orders to credit them to the bill of customers who were buying Christmas gifts or decorations, especially items for children, Samora said.
Layaway holders were notified that their items were paid in full and many came to claim their gifts before the store closed at 10 p.m.
“It was all for kids’ presents. It was awesome,” Samora said.
“I don’t know who’s responsible for it,” wrote Tommy Moore on the Britslist: Whatcom County page on Facebook. “I do not know who you are responsible for causing such an effect but I literally just watch 4 different families burst out into happy tears.”
Samora said the donor told her that his mother had made a similar gesture during the holidays for several years at another store and that she recently died, so he was continuing the generosity in her memory.
While he was at the store, the donor saw a customer come up short for cash in the checkout line.
“He walked up to her and paid for her whole purchase right there,” Samora said. “We had a lot of people in tears. I’ve never seen so much generosity from one person.”