To the Family at the Dollar Store

Yesterday I took our older two boys to the store to pack up our Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes.
Every year our church participates in this program that is run through Samaritan’s Purse.  
It is a wonderful program and as our boys get a little older each year they start to understand a little more about having a giving heart.
This year it was adorable to watch them go through the store and pick out toys, pencils, coloring books, etc for what they were calling their “buddies.”
And our 4 year old felt it necessary to kiss everything before he put it in the basket because he wanted his buddy to know he loved him.
Oh how it melted my heart!
Don’t get me wrong they still tried to sneak in toys for themselves but after a couple friendly reminders that we were there to shop for little boys/girls that weren’t able to have a Christmas like we do they caught on!
So up to the register’s we went to pay for our goodies and I noticed that in front of us was a family.  
There was a mom, dad, and their daughter who was probably about 6 or 7.
As they went to go pay for their groceries ( I hadn’t noticed what they purchased) the cashier told them that they don’t accept the form of payment they were trying to pay with.
The mom and dad gave each other a look and told the cashier they would run home to get cash and be right back to pay for the groceries.
They asked if they could please leave the groceries and come back in a few minutes.
So they left their cart at the end of the check out while the dad ran to the car to drive home and the mom and daughter waited outside of the store for him to come back.
I paid for all of our toys for our shoe boxes, the boys got their gumballs out of the machines, and we headed to our car.
On the way back to the car something nudged me.
A feeling came over me telling me that I was in that store at the time for a reason.
I had noticed the family as soon as I walked in the store, and through a couple of aisles we were in but never thought twice.
That’s when I knew it was Him telling me to do something about this.
It was Him telling me that I was able and that I was to pay for their groceries.
I shook my head in disbelief and kept walking to my car with my kids.
People were going to think I was crazy, plus I didn’t even know the family.
As I got to the car I opened the door and looked at the inside of the car we were driving.
Again, I stopped and listened.
My kids had clean name brand clothing, car seats to protect them, smiles on their faces, I was driving a state of the art car to keep our family safe, and I had just piled in three bags of toys to give to those who were in need.
Why stop our giving at just the shoe boxes to fill?
For a long time I have been trying to teach our children about the importance of always giving, even when it seems like you don’t have much to give, or even though it may seem silly.
It is important, and it is what God tells us, as Christians, we need to do.
So I took out my cell phone and I immediately called my husband.  
In the shakiest voice ever I said to him, “I have something to ask you…I feel like I need to do something. There was a family in front of us that could not pay for their groceries and I would like to pay for them. Is that okay?”
Without hesitation he said, “Pay for them.”
I took both kids back out of the car, walked into the store, and waited in line. 
The whole time was my heart was beating out of my chest.
All of my insecurities and what- ifs came rushing through my mind.
What if they didn’t allow me to pay for the items?
What if the family was offended?
What if they all thought I was completely crazy?
I kept pushed those thoughts aside, and kept moving forward in line.
When it was our turn I pointed to the cart of groceries sitting there and asked the cashier to ring up the entire cart of items because I wanted to pay for them.
At first she said, “But they are their’s,” and pointed to the mom and her daughter still waiting outside for the dad.
I said, “I know.  I would like to pay for them.”
Then the cashier asked, “Do you know them?”
To which I replied, “No.”
After giving me a long confused look, and shrugging her shoulders she then just said okay and started 
un-bagging all of the items and placed them on the belt to ring them up again.
As I started unloading the items I noticed there were some Christmas decorations, crayons, and little toys but there was also milk, eggs, cheese, snacks, and other food items.
My heart was breaking for these people buying their necessities at the dollar store and immediately I felt reaffirmed by Him that I was doing the right thing.
A peace came over me, unlike anything I have ever felt before.
I was hoping to pay for all of the groceries, leave the cart exactly where it was, and head back to my car thus making it an anonymous act of kindness.
Unfortunately as the last items were being rung up by the cashier the family came back into the store and saw what was going on.  
The mom thought the cashier was ringing them up for her to pay until I politely said excuse me and swiped my card in the machine.
The mom gave me a puzzled look and said, “What? Why? I have the cash here.”
I simply looked at her, the dad, and little girl and said, “This one’s on me.  I would love to do this for you.”
They both looked at one another then back at me with the biggest smiles on their faces and said, “Thank you.”
I left that store yesterday with tears in my eyes, and saying a prayer for that family.
I don’t know who they are, where they live, or anything about them.
I don’t know if they are struggling, or if they really did just leave their cash at home.
But it doesn’t matter.
All I know is I  was supposed to pay for those groceries yesterday for that family.
And I couldn’t be happier that I did.
I am grateful to have had the resources to do it for them, and hope it helped them in some small way.  
I am thankful for listening to what God laid on my heart.


4 thoughts on “To the Family at the Dollar Store

  1. Erica,

    What a nice gesture. I agree paying it forward is such a good feeling. In the past I have taken my last $25.00 and bought can goods for a food donation, knowing I had more cash coming next payday and I could do without anything “extra” the rest of the week. The next day I wore a different coat to work, and found $20 in the pocket! I know exactly where it came from, I just smiled and said Thanx! That was a satisfying sign I had done the right thing the day before.


  2. wow. I'm so glad you posted this. It is definitely a reminder to not only listen and obey, but to pay attention to ways that you can help. I sometimes go through my day with tunnel vision and it was so great that you noticed and stepped up.


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