Pixel Tracker

Saturday, January 19 , 2019, 9:23 pm | Fair 55º


‘Layaway Angels’ Deliver Holiday Cheer to Customers at Kmart in Goleta

Anonymous donors pay off overdue accounts, following the latest nationwide trend to commit the random acts of kindness

Maria Radilla’s daughter wants a bicycle for Christmas, but Radilla couldn’t pay the full balance at once so she took advantage of Kmart’s layaway program, which allows her to pay in small increments.

When the Santa Barbara resident got to the layaway counter at the back of the Goleta Kmart on Friday afternoon to pick up the pink Huffy bicycle, the cashier told her an anonymous donor had paid her balance.

At first, Radilla thought it was a mistake. When asked how the random act of kindness made her feel, she started to cry.

“A lot of families right now are struggling and don’t have the money to buy their kids something, and for someone to come and do this is just wonderful,” Radilla told Noozhawk.

Anonymous “layaway angels” have been paying off strangers’ bills across the country. Layaway angels at Kmart alone have paid off more than 1,000 layaway accounts adding up to more than $400,000, with some people donating thousands of dollars, according to a Kmart spokesman.

“I would tell (my angel) thank you and give them a big hug,” Radilla said. “I may cry a little.”

Goleta resident Dennis Hand was in line behind Radilla at the store at 6865 Hollister Ave. He offered to pay $150 worth of people’s overdue layaway bills. Although Hand said he had donated to charities before, he never had a chance to have an impact on someone’s life personally.

“I can think of a time when if someone paid me $100, $50 or put $20 in my pocket, I would’ve been astounded and had gratitude beyond counting,” Hand said. “If you can do something to help someone, it doesn’t have to be how much — just do it.”

Hand said he was watching the television news Thursday night and heard about someone back East who had paid for all of the layaway bills at Kmart, and he decided to do what he could to make a difference.

“It’s an attempt to do something worthwhile for someone who needs the help,” he said. “I hope it continues to catch on and gets bigger and bigger.”

A customer came into the Goleta Kmart on Thursday night who was a week late on her layaway payments for her children’s toys. She had no idea an angel had paid her balance, according to Kmart assistant store manager Sean Nguyen.

“She was shocked,” Nguyen said. “She stopped dead in her tracks, started crying and called her parents. Seeing that happiness on her face after some stranger paid off her layaway is one of the greatest feelings. It was amazing seeing her light up like that.”

Although the layaway program was established two years ago, Nguyen said the random acts of kindness have exponentially multiplied during the past two weeks. Click here for information about becoming a layaway angel.

“The past couple of weeks have been huge,” he said. “We’ve had at least 30 people pay off layaways that could add up to more than $5,000.”

Rodilla was certainly feeling the Christmas spirit.

“It means so much to all of the people they helped,” she said.

Noozhawk staff writer Alex Kacik can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.