A Stranger Paid It Forward When I Was Short On Cash And His Generosity Changed My Life

A kind man paid for groceries when I was down on my luck.

Woman short of cash in grocery store fizkes | Shutterstock, Mehrad Vosoughi | Canva

When my kids were young, I often struggled with money. After separating from my ex-husband, I had to work and provide childcare. My ex never helped me and had no guilt about leaving us high and dry.

Speaking of being high, that’s what led to this story. After giving my ex money for what I believed to be food and rehab fees (apparently, that’s not a thing), I was broke. Of course, my deadbeat ex spent the money on drugs and other women while I struggled to provide for our children. I thought I had enough to spend $75 on groceries for my six kids. They meant the world to me. After being raised by my grandma, I swore they would be my focus when I had kids.


One day, I strolled into a grocery store in Kansas, to buy a few things to get by for a few days. I counted everything exactly. I bought cereal, pasta, chicken, rice, potatoes, eggs, bread, and peanut butter. I might have thrown in soda and milk, but for the most part, it was the bare essentials. The cashier rang everything up. My total was $72.87. I will never forget that total. I swiped my bank card, and it said not approved. What? I had 78 bucks in the bank. I knew that.

Mom checking out at the grocery store with her child Altrendo Images / Shutterstock


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“Can you swipe it again, please?” I asked. Denied again. At this point, I felt anxious. How am I gonna feed my kids? I didn’t want to have to ask my grandma for money for food. That was embarrassing. I asked her to give me a minute to call my bank to check my balance. I turned away to make the call. My daughter, age 5, started talking to the man in the line behind us. He smiled at her and said she reminded him of his granddaughter.

When I was talking to the bank rep, the man paid for my groceries and got $100 cash back — he paid for his lemons — the only thing he bought for himself, and left the store. After I got off the phone with my bank, I turned to tell her to try my card again. She told me the man behind me in line paid for my groceries, and he wanted me to have $100. I quickly put the groceries in my car, hoping to find him outside to thank him.

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Just when I gave up on finding him, a man pulled up in a luxury car. He rolled down his window and said he wanted to help, hoping it didn’t offend me. He explained a few months earlier, his daughter’s abuser murdered her. He heard me on the phone with my bank explaining my abusive ex wasn’t allowed access to my account. He wanted me to know that even if I felt like I was failing, I was alive, and my kids were safe.

The man said he could tell I was an exemplary mother. He noticed I took good care of my daughter, and he would pray these tough times would soon be a distant memory for me.

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For this man, helping me was a tribute to his daughter. He helped me because he couldn’t help her. For me, he taught me I was not invisible, and even though things were rough, I was safe, alive, and employed.


I have paid for many single mothers' food over the years. For me, I am honoring this man’s daughter and my single mom days. I hope showing them they are important, seen, and supported will also help them turn their lives around.

Just a week after this man helped me, I landed a job and my life turned completely around. He changed my entire perspective on life in general.


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Chrissie Massey is a writer who loves to share her life experiences with her readers. She has contributed to Yahoo News, Examiner, Inquisitr, Newsbreak, and Medium.