A simple, generous act of kindness can be so life changing — especially when it means the difference between kids going hungry or having full bellies. A poignant blog post written by a mother of five made a beautifully honest illustration of that recently.
In To the Woman Behind Me in Line at the Grocery Store, the woman, who identifies herself only as Andrea, thanks an unknown fellow shopper for paying for her groceries, which totalled just $17.38, after being faced with an out-of-service EBT machine and an empty wallet.
Her tale has captured public empathy, with many readers commenting with supportive sentiments and even job offers.
"I am overwhelmed. I am humbled. I am awed," she tells Yahoo Shine about the positive response. "I am also amazed. I am honoured that people trust me with their stories. I am pleased that the vast majority are taking this as it is intended: to be blessed and to bless."
In her post, which is composed like a letter, she writes:
“Dear woman behind me in line at the grocery store. You don’t know me. You have no clue what my life has been like since October 1, 2013. You have no clue that my family has gone through the wringer. You have no clue that we have faced unbelievable hardship. You have no clue we have been humiliated, humbled, destitute.”
But, she continues, “You didn’t judge me. You didn’t snarl, ‘Maybe you should have less kids.’ You didn’t say, ‘Well, get a job and learn to support yourself.’ You didn’t look away in embarrassment or shame for me. You didn’t make any assumptions at all."
“What you did was you paid that $17.38 grocery bill for us. You gave my kids bananas, yogurt, apple juice, cheese sticks, and a peach ice tea for me; a rare treat and splurge. You let me hug you and promise through my tears that I WILL pay this forward. I WILL pay someone’s grocery bill for them. That $17.38 may not have been a lot for you, but it was priceless to us.”
Through her blog, True Stories of a Midwest Yankee, Andrea documents “life unfolding,” through family tales about moving from the East Coast of the United States of America to the Midwest, with her many kids — one of whom has special needs and another with “9, yes N-I-N-E” food allergies, and all of whom are home-schooled. In her grocery store post, she notes she’s both “grateful and embarrassed” that her family has been on the US government’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) since her husband was laid off after 17 years with his former company, and that her family had, for a time, been homeless.
“You know none of this but you didn’t let that stop you from being compassionate and generous to someone you have never met,” Andrea writes to the stranger, whom she adds her family has dubbed their “angel in disguise.”
She continues, “You have no idea the impact you had on my kids. You have no idea how incredibly thankful I am for you. Your action may have been small, but to us it was monumental. Thank you.”
Commenters on her blog post have been clearly touched by the story. "What town are y’all in?" wrote one man. "Not sure if it would work out like this but I’m in Atlanta and will need to hire on some people pretty soon. You can email me." Other offers came from readers in both Detroit and Kansas City.
Andrea acknowledges the outpouring generosity on her blog's Facebook page, writing, "I am so humbled that people are offering to help us. I do not want people to think I expect anything because I don't. So if you offered to help and I declined I apologise. I need to realise I struggle with pride. Please be patient with me. I am so thankful for all of you."