Edith was standing outside the supermarket and staring at everyone with needy eyes to buy food for her. The woman hadn’t eaten anything in days and was starving. But nobody helped her except for a young boy who asked her to return the favor in a unique way.
Ten-year-old Sam Evans was a die-hard football fan, and he’d been saving for months to buy his favorite football kit. However, when he reached the store, he discovered that the kit’s price had risen, and the cost was now a few more dollars than what he’d managed to save.
Dejected, the boy almost burst into tears, but just then, he heard a voice from behind. “Are you all right, Sam?”
The boy turned and saw Mr. Barney, his neighbor, holding a bag of groceries. “Yes, Mr. Barney,” the boy replied as he wiped his tears and approached him. “I was just—”
“Well, you don’t seem okay, young man,” Mr. Barney interrupted. “Tell me if there’s anything I can do to assist you.”
“I had saved money for my football kit,” Sam sobbed. “But when I came today, I saw it’s a few dollars more than what I have.”
“That’s it? That’s why you’re upset?” Mr. Barney gave him a huge smile. “Don’t worry, kid; I will pay the extra cost.”
“Oh no, Mr. Barney!” Sam exclaimed. “If Mom finds out I asked you for money for the football kit, she’ll be furious. After school, I frequently spend the day playing football, so when I asked her for a new kit, she said no. So I’ve been saving for it. Plus, she told me not to borrow money from anyone. She says it’s not a good thing if you can’t return their favor and I don’t have money to pay you back.”
Mr. Barney laughed at the boy’s innocence. “Well, then how about you pay me back right now?”
“Now?” Sam was puzzled.
“Yes, promise me that you’ll pay forward this kindness. That means that if you come across someone in need and have the financial means to assist them, you’ll help them without hesitation. Deal?”
“Done, Mr. Barney,” Sam exclaimed joyfully and they went shopping for his football gear.
After that day, Sam began saving money as a promise to Mr. Barney that he’d help someone in need one day, and over the course of a year, the boy was able to amass $400!
One day, he confidently walked into the supermarket with all those dollars in his pockets and went straight to the cashier. “Hi, my name is Sam. I have 400 dollars with me, and I would like to pay for people who are short of money.”
The cashier smiled at him. “Are you by yourself, kid? Where’s your mother? Does she know you’re spending her money like that?”
“No,” Sam explained, “it’s the money I saved. I made a promise—”
“Look, kid, you’re not supposed to be here. Tell me, where’s your mom? I will drop you off there,” the cashier interrupted him. Sam tried explaining that he was alone, but the cashier didn’t listen to him and shooed him away as customers began approaching his desk.
Dejected, Sam went to another cashier, but he, too, turned him away. “Get off the side boy, you’re blocking other customers’ way,” the man yelled angrily.
I don’t think I can return Mr. Barney’s favor. I can’t see anyone who needs my help. Sam pondered. But just then, his gaze was drawn to a homeless older woman who was staring at everyone at the supermarket with needy eyes.
Sam dashed over to her. Her name was Edith. “Can I help you, ma’am? Do you want to buy something?” he asked curiously.
“Oh no, no,” Edith said shyly. “I was just passing by; I didn’t want to buy anything.”
Sam gave her a huge smile. “It’s all right. I noticed you watching other people shop for groceries. I can buy something for you.”
Edith was embarrassed to ask the boy for help, but she had been starving for days, so she shyly asked him, “Can you just buy me some bread? I’m starving and haven’t eaten in days.”
“Sure, please come with me,” Sam responded cheerfully. He led the homeless woman inside the store and bought her bread, groceries, and a carton of milk. When he went to pay the bill at the counter, the cashier couldn’t believe his eyes that a young boy was actually paying the bill for someone else.
The shoppers’ faces were equally flushed with surprise and embarrassment when Sam offered to assist the homeless woman. In fact, inspired by Sam’s example, one lady offered to pay for Edith’s additional groceries.
Another patted the boy’s head and praised him, “God bless you, young man. Your mother did an excellent job raising you.” An arrogant one mocked the boy, but he was taught a good lesson for his rudeness. And one woman cried so hard at the boy’s generosity that the cashier went around the counter and hugged her to comfort her.
When Sam finally paid the bill and returned, Edith burst out crying. “Thank you so much, young man! I can’t return your generosity ever!”
But Sam smiled and said, “You can. All you have to do now is make a wish that you will be able to pay this generosity forward to someone else in the future. Deal?”
“Deal,” Edith said, her heart filled with joy.