One of our favorite family traditions is visiting Krispy Kreme when the children receive their report cards. “One free doughnut for every A” is the incentive Krispy Kreme offers and they never disappoint! Ever since our daughter started Kindergarten eight years ago, we have made the trek across town to the only Krispy Kreme restaurant around, to watch the doughnuts transform from gooey round balls to puffed up delicacies. We love staring at the baked doughnuts sliding down the conveyor belt with sweet anticipation of seeing them being smothered in warm, slick icing.
Yes, a visit to Krispy Kreme is quite the treat for our family indeed, especially because we don’t live nearby. This past week we piled the kids in the car, report cards in hand, and made our way to this little piece of heaven on earth.
Traveling side roads, main roads, and interstates, we finally approached our destination. My son piped up from the back seat,”Mommy… what does that sign say?” He was pointing to a girl standing on the side of street who was holding up a sign asking for help. “We don’t need rocks, we need socks!” declared the sign. She was a bit disheveled in her mismatched layers of clothes, trying to keep the biting wind away from her bare skin. “What does that mean, Mommy? I don’t get it!” Well, I could have spent the next two hours talking about that sign and the greater issues in our society that the sign represented, but I answered simply, “I think she just wants a little bit of help, sweetie.”
We turned into the Krispy Kreme parking lot and made our way into the restaurant, but the image of the girl holding the sign wouldn’t leave my mind. When was the last time she ate? Had a shower? I noticed that there was a dog sitting by her feet. When was the last time he ate? As we made our way through the line to the front display with all the different varieties of sprinkled and iced donuts, I knew exactly what I needed to do.
The Krispy Kreme worker checked off the A’s on the children’s report cards and packed the free glazed doughnuts into a sturdy box to take back home. Each child also chose one “fancy” doughnut of their choice which we purchased with milk to be consumed now. I pointed to the red, pink, and white sprinkled heart-shaped doughnut in the front and asked, “May I have this one to go? With a coffee and a cup of water, too?” Gathering napkins, cream, sugar, and a stir stick, I told my husband, “I’ll be right back” and walked out of the front door as my children made their way to the back of the store with their dad to eat their special treats.
“Excuse me. Hi,” I said to the girl on the street corner, who was leaning over rubbing her dog. “Hi!” she reponded, eye opening wide. I held out the drinks and doughnut. “Your sign made me smile. I wanted you to have these.” Her smile was bright and cheerful despite her clothes and surroundings. “And the water is for your dog,” I added as an after thought.
I caught movement from the corner of my eye and turned to see two more people on the corner, another young girl and an older gentleman, hunched and worn with age. “Oh no!” I exclaimed. “I didn’t know you had friends with you! I thought it was only you!” The second girl came closer and showed me the dog she had hidden inside her coat. “I have a dog, too!” she said, proudly drawing attention to the little scruffy head peeking from within. “Oh my gosh, I am so sorry! I only brought one doughnut and coffee, thinking there was only one person here! I am so sorry!” The girls laughed, still smiling, with the first girl easing my embarrassment. “Oh, it’s OK. This is my sister. We can share. It was nice of you to bring us a treat!”
As I turned to make my way back to my family, nestled in the warm restaurant devouring their doughnuts with sticky fingers and milk-stained mouths, I heard the girl offer her doughnut to the older gentleman who had stayed hidden in the shadows. “Pat, you want part of this? You can have some if you want.” Almost out of earshot, I heard Pat respond, “No, no, girls, you have it. I get me something soon. You eat.”
It almost broke my heart.
As the tears started to sting the corners of my eyes, I pushed open the door to Krispy Kreme and sat with my family. “What did she say?” “Was she excited?” “Did the dog drink all the water?” The kids had dozens of questions, clearly interested and concerned at the same time. After retelling my random act of kindness, I couldn’t overcome the simple lesson I myself had learned from the experience. These girls, whose lives were obviously more challenged than mine, had received an unexpected surprise and yet were willing to share it with someone else who might be more in need than them. Priceless.
In that moment, I knew I had more to do. I got back in line, purchased two more doughnuts, coffees, and waters, and made my way back to the street corner. I wanted to bless both sisters and their older friend, Pat.
“Hi. I’m back.” I held out the treats as an offering for forgiveness. “Now you don’t have to share!” They were surprised by my return and the older girl exclaimed, “Oh wow!” I pulled out the cream, sugar and stir sticks from my pocket. “Stay warm and know you are loved. Be blessed!” I quickly turned and walked away before they could see the tears inching out of my eyes yet again.
I know there has been a lot of conversation and debate within our local community about homeless people standing on the sides of streets, signs in hand, asking for help or handouts. In this moment, it didn’t matter. None of it made a difference to me. It was simply a moment in time where I saw an opportunity to bless someone else with kindness. I could have just as easily purchased doughnuts and coffee for a stranger in the restaurant. I wasn’t there to debate the legalities of their actions, nor their purpose or intent. All that was important was that I acted on my heart and did what I felt was the right thing, in the right time.
This random act of kindness is dedicated to Caroline Previdi, age 6, whose neighbor told the Associated Press that “Caroline was always wanting others to smile.” I can relate. It really does brighten your day to know you made someone else smile. I hope there’s an endless supply of pretty sprinkled doughnuts in heaven for this sweet little girl. I also hope her parents know that her legacy lives on with this simple act of kindness.
Be blessed, my friends, and never let an opportunity pass to bless a strangers. I promise you will be more blessed in return!