David Wilson Pays Off Kmart Layaway Balances In Laguna Beach

Just call them Santa's little helpers.

People across the nation are stepping up to anonymously pay off layaway balances at Kmart department stores, the holiday goodwill has hit the West Coast.

The OC Register tells the story of Laguna Beach local David Wilson, who saw a KTLA report on these "layaway angels" and realized he had found the perfect gift for his wife.

Wilson called manager Tricia Lawrence at a nearby Kmart in Costa Mesa and asked her to tally up hundreds of layaway accounts at the department store. The grand total: $15,919.61. Wilson, who owns 16 car dealerships across Orange County, wrote a check covering the entire amount. Now it was up to Lawrence to spend the next four days delivering the good news; customers could pick up their Christmas gifts because everything was already paid for.

Since Wilson's donation, the same Kmart store has received $8,000 in anonymous gifts to pay off more layaway accounts.

And the generosity isn't limited to just Kmart stores. CBS2 visited a Wal-Mart in Sacramento, where layaway angels have also landed. Shirley, a cashier, cried with joy as she recalled the reactions of customers who received the anonymous gift. "I think it's wonderful that this happens at this time of year," she said.

Watch CBS2's video report:

Other department store layaway customers in Florida, Pennsylvania and Nebraska have also been touched by the holiday miracle. USA Today notes that most credit this trend to the actions of one generous woman in Michigan, who paid off the balance of three Kmart customers three weeks ago.