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Paying it Forward: The Kindness of Strangers


I recently read the story of Matthew Jackson and cannot get this young man’s good deed out of my mind. If you aren’t familiar with the story read the details below:

Jamie Lynne-Knighten is on a mission to pay it forward to honor a good Samaritan who was killed 24 hours after picking up her $200 grocery bill.

On November 10, Knighten had a crying 5-month old baby in her arms, a cart full of groceries and a line forming behind her at an Oceanside, California, Trader Joe’s checkout counter when she realized she had left her debit card at home.

The mother of two attempted to pay her more than $200 tab with her credit card that declined repeatedly due to anti-fraud lock. As she was attempting to reach her credit card company get the lock lifted, a young man in line behind her offered to help.

“The gentleman behind me quietly says ‘May I?’ ” she recalled in a Facebook post about the encounter. “I’m overwhelmed and didn’t think I heard him correctly so he repeats ‘May I? May I take care of your groceries?’ ”

When she refused, the man, 28-year-old Matthew Jackson, asked again.

“This time I look at him and he says ‘I would be glad to take care of your groceries as long as you promise to do it for someone else..’ and I came to realize how much it would mean to him if I humbly accepted,” she continued.

Now crying, Knighten asked the young man for his name and where he worked, hoping to find a way to acknowledge or repay his good deed later.

Unable to stop thinking about the kind stranger, Knighten called Jackson’s boss at LA Fitness more than a week later to share his kindness and ask about sending a gift.

“That’s when [the manager] started crying,” Knighten told NBC San Diego.

The manager then explained that Jackson had been killed in a car accident less than 24 hours after the chance encounter at Trader Joe’s, the Los Angeles Times reports.

As a mom of two small children, (four and 8 months), I can only imagine how stressed this woman felt and how happy she must have been to receive assistance from a complete stranger.

This morning I was also helped by someone I never met before. I walked into Macy’s carrying two huge boxes and pushing my son’s stroller. When I reached the counter the cashier informed me that I could not return housewares in the clothing department and that I would have to take the elevator downstairs.  It was difficult enough to get from the car to the checkout counter without dropping anything and the idea of walking any farther seemed logistically impossible.

I asked the cashier to make an exception, but she simply said “no” and pointed to the elevator on the other side of the store. A very kind young customer turned and offered to help. She took the two boxes and offered to meet me downstairs. She not only met me down there, but also offered to walk them all the way to the housewares department.

I asked if I could do anything for her, but she smiled and said ‘I’m a flight attendant. I like helping people.” She smiled, turned and walked away. There are so many good people in this world and my encounter today and Matthew’s story above are a reminder of all that is right.


Monday 28th of December 2015

What a sad, but beautiful story! We never know how our actions will impact others or how long we have to make a difference in this world.