The stranger reached out to the mom on Facebook with an offer to buy school supplies for her son as a way of paying forward a kindness they'd received years ago.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on June 22, 2021. It has since been updated.
It takes a village to raise a child, they say. So you can imagine how difficult it must be for single parents who have to do it all alone. Between juggling jobs to putting food on the table and finding the time and energy to fulfill all their child's needs, it can be a lot to handle without some external help. For one single mom, this help came out of the blue in the most unexpected manner - from a total stranger who reached out to her through a mom's group online. The Good Samaritan offered to buy school supplies for her son while clarifying that they had a few conditions.
"My son is 7 and headed into second grade," Billie, a single mom from Florida, told Bored Panda. "It's always been just me and him, so I've been a single mom for 7 years. I have 4 jobs and I am also a full-time student so not much time for dating, lol. Of course, it's difficult, it is intended to be a two-person job. We honestly wouldn't make it without family, friends, and the kindness of strangers." Billy's heartwarming encounter with the kind stranger went viral online a couple of years ago when she posted screenshots of their conversation on Imgur.
"This woman messaged me. She found me in a mom group, I've posted there for advice a few times. I didn't know her at all. I was a bit cautious of course, I stalked her online and made sure she wasn't an ax murderer. I had her ship them to my work just in case," Billy explained. The stranger's first message to Bill read: "Hello! You don't know me but I was reading past posts looking for a single mom that could probably use a chance to catch a break. For some reason, your posts popped out to me," they explained.
"I'm not a single mom, but I know it's hard [as f**k]. I have too many friends who are. So if you need/want the help, I'm looking to buy the school supplies for two single moms who need it. If you send me screenshots of your kid(s) lists, I will have all of it drop-shipped to any address you choose," they wrote. However, the stranger added, they had a few conditions. The individual asked that Billy never reveal their identity to anyone as they preferred to remain anonymous. They also asked that if she didn't need the help, Billy let them know soon so they could pick someone else to buy supplies for.
Their final condition was this: "Pay it forward. Be kind to a random stranger someday." As you imagine, Billy was utterly blown away by the stranger's offer to help and promised that she would pay it forward wholeheartedly. "I'm not worried," the stranger responded. "It's not even an obligation, just if you have the chance, do so someday. Whether or not you pay it forward is between you and the universe. Not me." They then went on to share an incredible story to shed some light on their actions.
"20 years ago, a man read my name in the newspaper. He called the university I had applied to and told them all of the money he donated to them was required to go to my education expenses for the next four years," the stranger explained. "It was $75k. He refused to meet me, didn't own a telephone, and would only communicate via handwritten letters. I have no idea why I was given such a gift, but it changed my life. I would have had no education without it, I was so poor. I graduated with a bachelors in science and no debt."
"I live a good life. This is my way of paying it forward," they continued. "I was just a random name in a newspaper. You were a random one on a [Facebook] post. Life connects people in funny ways. Just roll with it. This won't change your life the way mine was, but maybe just make it a little bit brighter for a while." Along with the screenshots, Billy also shared a photo that revealed that the stranger had indeed sent her the school supplies as promised. "I opened the boxes today. All of my son's school supplies and some extras. A new pair of shoes, which is awesome [because] I'm super thrifty and hardly ever buy brand new things. He is gonna be super excited," she wrote.