LIVERMORE -- There were tears of joy at a Livermore Walmart on Friday as an anonymous couple played Santa, surprising shoppers by paying for their Christmas gifts.
Walmart employees say an unidentified man and woman selected at least five shoppers at random and paid their entire store bills at the register, mostly for toys and Christmas gifts. Twin girls were given baby dolls; another family had a cart full of at least $600 in merchandise covered by their benefactors.
"They said, 'Don't worry, there's no cameras; we just want to do something nice for people,'" said store cashier Joyce Short, who rang up several of the purchases. "There are so many nice people out there, you just forget about that with all the bad stuff going on," she said, adding that the couple hugged each other after their spree.
Store personnel manager Ronda Herrera was shopping in the store with her family when her 8-year-old daughter mentioned a toy sewing machine she wanted for an after-school class. The generous couple must have overheard her, Herrera said, because they handed her daughter the sewing machine on their way out, along with a simple "Merry Christmas."
"It was very thoughtful and nice of them," Hererra said. "It will come back to them someday."
Store manager Ed Pettigrew wasn't working at the time but said the couple paid for thousands of dollars in merchandise with their credit card. Pettigrew said he has seen similar random acts before, but nothing quite like this.
"This one was more personal," Pettigrew said. "There were a lot of tears involved. People were shocked. ... In the middle of the Christmas season, it was great to have a feel-good weekend."
The couple didn't give their names. Employees described the couple as Caucasian, in their 30s, the man had thinning brown hair and the woman was blond.
Herrera said if she ever sees them again, she would give them a hug of gratitude.
"There were a lot of families that night that were less fortunate," she said. "They probably did wonders for them out of the kindness of their hearts."
Contact Jeremy Thomas at 925-847-2184 or follow him at twitter.com/jet_bang.