Christmas is a time to give, not just receive. It’s why we celebrate the birth of Jesus, who represents generosity across the globe. But a woman from North Carolina found that kindness isn’t tied to a season, which is something she discovered from a stranger’s gift which she found on a floor in Walmart.
In some countries, November 13 is known as World Kindness Day, which is a day where people do nice things and perform random acts of kindness. But this year, World Kindness Day kicked off a day early for Julia Stultz, a resident of North Carolina. She had no idea that a shopping trip to Walmart would lead to such a lovely experience.
Julia Stultz when to a local Walmart in Charlotte with her husband to buy some clothes. They were looking for winter clothes for their son, since the cold was approaching quickly. But the shopping experience at Walmart isn’t always the best, particularly when it gets crowded and can’t find the items you want. But on this fateful day, that didn’t matter to Julia.
Stultz and her hubby went their separate way, since she was the one always picked their son’s clothes, while he went off to look for other stuff. She walked towards the clothing section, while trying to figure out what her son’s shirt size was, since he’d grown a lot over the summer. But when she looked through the racks of hoodies and jackets, she noticed something very odd.
Julia knelt down to get a closer look and noticed that it was a white envelope. At first, she assumed it was garbage, since this Walmart wasn’t known for being the neatest in her neighborhood. But then she saw something written on the front of the envelope and curiosity told her to look. When she read what it said, she became more curious.
The handwritten note on the envelope said, “With Love, Amen.” But there was no stamp, no sender or recipient on the envelope. Those three words made Julia realize this was more than junk mail that someone threw away while shopping. So, she turned the envelope over in the hopes of finding who it belonged to. But when she read the message written on the other side, Julia was dumbfounded.
On the top flap of the envelope, it read, “If this card has found you, open it. It’s yours. God is continuously blessing you.” Julia was really confused now. She looked around and thought of giving the envelope to a Walmart staff member. But her gut told her not to, so she opened the envelope to get a look inside, and hoped for the very best.
There was a card inside the envelope that said, “I’m praying for you today,” with a photo of a lighthouse in the background. Julia appreciated prayers, especially since her family was of the Christian faith, so this letter soothed her. Besides, lighthouses are like a light in the darkness, guiding to help people sailing through rough waters. Whoever left this envelope had good intentions. But later she learned that they had totally different intentions.
When Julia opened the card, she was so shocked by the content that it almost fell. Tucked inside the card was a $100 bill. Julia was stunned. She looked around because she thought there was a hidden camera somewhere. But all she saw were shoppers going about their business. So, she decided to read the message written on the card itself, and it brought her to tears.
The rest of the message read, “May this gift buy you a little peace today. One day, please pay it forward. May the blessings of God be on you always.” The card was signed, “your friend,” so Julia didn’t know if it was a man or a woman because the person never identified themselves. But she was so stunned that she went looking for her husband to share what she’d found and to convince herself that this actually happened.
Once Julia showed her husband the money and the card, they continued their shopping and then heading home, feeling happy. But Julia was overwhelmed with sadness when she realized she’d never get the chance to thank the “friend” who left her the money. Maybe it was no big deal to them, but Julia was very grateful. After some careful consideration, she chose to do something else instead.
Julia reached out to a local news station, Fox 46 via e-mail to tell them about how she found the envelope. She added that she planned to pay the kindness forward, and asked them to do the same too. The station did a segment the next day and even interviewed other shoppers at the Walmart Julia had been in about the incident. People felt uplifted and took a moment to reflect on how the world needed more kindness.
Walmart shopper Lama McLaughlin said, “I think people should be more kind to each other. I would say it’s not hard to do, but it’s uncommon nowadays.” Other interviewed shoppers agreed, claiming that what happened to Julia was like something that only happened in movies, but rarely in real life. One shopper was so touched by the gesture that he decided to follow the same example.
Akili Omari was asked what he thought of Julia’s experience and he replied, “I always said if I had a chance to pay it forward, I would absolutely do it.” While he wasn’t the one to find the card, he’s considered paying it forward. “Maybe we should all consider doing one ourselves. I think I will.” It looks like this trend has the potential to catch on, but in some places, fortunately, it has.
The California organization, SpreadKindness.org encourages people to incorporate kindness into their daily routine. One of their initiatives, called “Kindness Cards,” is quite similar to the experience that Julia had. Essentially, they offer free cards that people use to perform acts of kindness and randomly pass them along to other people. But they also share the love in other ways.
One of the first things that SpreadKindness.org did was to pass out flowers in San Ramon’s Central Park. They also handed out balloons and homemade cookies too. People were confused at first since they’re not used to random acts of kindness. Group member Cherie Trocha-Milichichi said, “It’s not often that you are walking down the street and someone hands you a flower.” Clearly, someone all the way in North Carolina shares the organization’s kind vision.