This article appeared in the August 11, 2021 edition of the Monitor Daily.

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A bottle of water, and a chain reaction of kindness

Lynne Sladky/AP/File
Lisa Hayeem Carver gives a bottle of water to a homeless man during the new coronavirus pandemic, April 3, 2020, in Miami.

It was an oppressive, pitiless July day, when Barbara Mack saw a man who was homeless, red-faced and limp, on her way into a central Florida convenience store. She asked if he was OK. “Just resting,” he replied.

Ms. Mack went inside, grabbed two bottles of water, called out to the cashier that she’d be right back, and gave a bottle to the man outside. But when Ms. Mack returned, a woman in the long line gave her an earful about wasting her money and “enabling that homeless person.”

Ms. Mack admits that she lost it. She shouted (among other things) that “if she had an ounce of compassion in her whole body, she’d buy him a cold drink, too,” wrote Ms. Mack in her July 21 Facebook post.

After her rant, the store was stone silent. Then, the man at the front of the line asked the cashier to add a sandwich to his purchases for “the guy outside.” One by one, everyone in line (except the scolding woman) bought something for him. “When I went outside, he was eating his ice cream and drinking his water with a pile of stuff all around him, a big old grin on his face,” Ms. Mack wrote. Her Facebook post has been shared 140,000 times. 

I reached out to Ms. Mack, but she declined to be interviewed. She did recount her story to Fox News. Still, even if her story can’t be fully verified, research shows that a simple act of kindness can be a powerful catalyst. It reminds us of what generosity looks like, and of how we want to be but sometimes forget because we’re tired, rushed, and hot. 

Thanks for the reminder, Barbara Mack. 

This article appeared in the August 11, 2021 edition of the Monitor Daily.

Read 08/11 edition
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