A Midwest mother of five decided to write a thank-you letter to a stranger that paid her grocery bill, and now, that letter is teaching people everywhere why it is so important to pay it forward.
Andrea Gardner frequently writes on her blog “True Stories Of A Midwest Yankee” about the daily struggles her family has faced and continues to face after her husband was laid off from his job of 17 years. Gardner recently decided to write a letter to the unknown Samaritan who paid her $17.38 grocery bill when she was faced with a tough situation at the grocery store with her children.
“You don’t know me,” starts Gardner in her blog post. “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. You have no clue I have cried more days than not; that I fight against bitterness taking control of my heart. You have no clue that my husband’s pride was shattered. You have no clue my kids have had the worries of an adult on their shoulders. You have no clue their innocence was snatched from them for no good reason. You know none of this.”
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“What you do know is I tried to buy my kids some food and that the EBT machine was down so I couldn’t buy that food,” continued Gardner. “I didn’t have any cash or my debit card with me. I only had my SNAP card. All you heard was me saying ‘No, don’t hold it for me. My kids are hungry now and I have no other way of paying for this.’ 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.”
Since posting the heartwarming letter, Gardner has received support from people all over. Her blog post has over 700 comments since being posted on March 19, it was catapulted to viral status when the Huffington Post shared it, and random people have even offered her and her husband jobs. On April 3, Gardner responded to those offering help via her Facebook page.
“I am learning. Always learning. I am so humbled that people are offering to help us,” wrote Gardner. “I do not want people to think I expect anything because I don't. So if you offered to help and I declined I apologize. I need to realize I struggle with pride. Please be patient with me. I am so thankful for all of you.”
This story proves that helping another person without expecting anything in return always pays off in the long run.