Arlie Smith and his wife were given $2,500 for a beach vacation from Costco shoppers

By Kelli Bender
March 13, 2015 02:35 PM;;playerWidth=680;playerHeight=383;isShowIcon=true;clipId=11219758;flvUri=;partnerclipid=;adTag=News;advertisingZone=;enableAds=true;landingPage=;islandingPageoverride=false;playerType=STANDARD_EMBEDDEDscript;controlsType=overlayShoppers at a Danville, California, Costco worked together to surprise one of the store’s sweetest employees.

Arlie Smith has been working at the store for 21 years, greeting shoppers at the door with a smile and a sympathetic ear, reports KTVU.

“He’s always at the door, he’s always giving receipts, he’s always smiling, always happy. And people refer to him as the Costco guy,” said customer Steve Maurer.

Many of his customers didn’t know Smith, 45, is battling some troubles of his own behind that cheery demeanor. Two years ago, the lovable “Costco guy” was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and then, last September, Smith learned he has terminal bone cancer. Doctors estimate he has roughly two years to live, KTVU reports.

When Smith’s loyal customers learned about the greeter’s diagnosis, they decided it was time to give back to the man who had provided them with so much happiness over the years.

Starting a group called “Arlie’s Angels,” the customers created an online fundraiser as a way to surprise Smith. On Tuesday, the angels arrived together at Costco to present Smith and his wife Shari with $2,500 for a beach vacation in Laguna Beach, California.

“We’re all here today because we love you so much,” said organizer Bridgette Loughnane. “We got people donating $10, $20, up to $500, so you’ll go and have four nights at your favorite place in Laguna Beach.”

The gesture brought Smith and his wife to tears.

“They’re priceless, they’re irreplaceable,” Smith said about his customers. “Everything that’s done for me and the love that’s shown for me, every day, it’s astounding. I mean, people don’t have this great of a life.”

Even with his grim diagnosis, Smith’s positivity is unwavering.

“It’s in your face all the time,” he said. “So how can you possibly be ungrateful in my situation? How can you possibly take this for granted?”

Aside from planning his upcoming vacation, Smith is also working to raise money for Children’s Hospital Oakland through a store-wide fundraiser.