HAYWARD, Calif. (KTVU) - Shoppers strolled the aisles and checked off holiday wish lists at the Kmart store in Hayward, unaware of the surprise that was about to be revealed at the back of the store.
Cassandra Mathews of Hayward was one of the unsuspecting shoppers. She said she's doing the best she can to give her grandchildren a few nice Christmas presents, partnering up with their other grandmother. She says she had to put some things on layaway, paying little by little.
"Not much, not overboard, but they're going to know it's Christmas," Mathews said, "My grandchildren are 3, 6, and 2 and it's kind of hard to see other children that age, playing outside with something new and they don't have anything."
On Tuesday evening, workers took Mathews to the back of the store where some ‘Layaway Angels’ were waiting.
"I'm Xia, this is Andre, and Josie and we are volunteering with payawaythelayaway.org and we are here to pay off your layaway for the holidays," said Xia Chekwa, a payawaythelayaway.org volunteer.
"My husband and I, Chimdi Chekwa who's a former Oakland Raider, we did it a couple days ago and I had so much fun, I was like I want to come back and help," Chekwa said.
It's a simple gift, given face-to-face, from the non-profit crowdfunding website that partners with stores, volunteer athletes and their families.
In Hayward, one of the volunteers was the 2004 Olympic gold medal boxer Andre Ward, who also acted in the movie "Creed."
"I'm a simple person and no matter how far I go in life, or how high in my career, I'm very grassroots. I care about my community, I care about the Bay Area," Ward said.
For Keana Jones it meant a gift she'll be able to give her niece.
"It's been hard this year. I just started a new job a couple weeks ago," Jones said, "I've been making ends meet to make the payments every two weeks just so she could have it out in time for Christmas."
Each person has a family and a story.
"I have 16 grandchildren, so I have six daughters and you guys just made my day," said one woman, who started laughing and giving the volunteers hugs.
For a single grandfather, the surprise meant a helping hand as he raises three of his grandchildren
Others were speechless, thinking about the good deeds this holiday season, and the many little acts of kindness that can bring such joy.
The organization has raised about $100,000 since it was founded in 2011. It has brought the Layaway Angels to 30 cities in the United States.