An act of generosity is a powerful thing. It's something that the receiver will never forget. It's a way of saying, "You today, me tomorrow." And it's something that will be paid forward, affecting far more people than it ever intended. Here, 25 grateful people share the most incredible act of generosity someone has ever done for them.
I was in college and completely broke. I had a bag with me containing four loaves of bread that I’d bought for about $1.10, and I didn’t have any idea what I would eat after those were gone. I was at a pay phone in a classroom building, calling my mom collect because I also didn’t have a phone.
I knew my mom had already told me she wasn’t going to give me any money anymore, but I hoped she could ask my grand mother for $20. Before I could get that out, she yelled at me and hung up.
As I was dialing my dad at work, someone came up and was waiting for the phone. I explained the situation to my dad, he needed me to call him back in a few minutes (he had a customer in his shop or something). Before I hung up, the person waiting, who’d seen me make two calls now, says, “Other people have to use the phone, too, you know.”
After I hung up, I unloaded on this guy, both barrels. Screaming at him about how I was out of money and out of food, and how he’s probably forced to use a pay phone because his cell phone was broken (this was when cell phones were expensive, so it was a total jab). I stepped away from the phone and wept in a corner while he made his call.
After he was done, I sucked it up and apologized. I was under a lot of stress, and I shouldn’t have taken it out on him, I said, looking at my shoes. Guy puts a $5 bill in my hand, and says, “Give this to someone when they need it.”
I have paid that forward manifold.
My mom was dying, she lived in Australia and I live in Georgia.
My husband had been laid off from work and I couldn’t afford to fly to Australia on a last minute basis.
A person that I only know from a message board used her frequent flyer miles and paid for my trip to Australia…not only that but she booked me first class both ways.
I had a science teacher back in middle school who after grading each test would call me into his classroom and ask me every question I had gotten wrong in case I’d misread the question or couldn’t get the answer onto paper. If I could explain the answer to him he’d mark it right. He was a good man.
I’m dyslexic and dysgraphic. He was the teacher that helped me out the most.
Fresh out of college
I was fresh out of college with a tech job where I was vastly underpaid. I was working 40+ hours a week, I had no benefits, and it was non-profit so they screwed with my taxes being removed from my check because they could. It was a bad situation.
The dress code was business casual. All of my clothes from college were worn through and coming apart. One afternoon, my roommate’s mom shows up at our apartment and gives me a stack of clothes, all perfectly my size, and says she got them for her husband and he didn’t want them.
A month or so later I was at their house and I noticed that I was nearly 6 inches taller and 50 pounds lighter than her husband. She got those for me and was trying to spare my pride.
Out of Insulin
I’m a type 1 diabetic who had run out of insulin. I had been using as little as I could to get by but I was just about out and currently had no health insurance from my work (it’s based on hours and I was a full-time college student). I was using the school clinic since I wasn’t feeling well and they were so concerned about my health that the dean of students even came to my apartment to make sure I was still alive after not returning the clinics calls, as I had been up all night with my husband at the hospital due to him having a heart scare. I explained to them I couldn’t afford the $300 vial that I needed and left to run some errands.
I got a call about half-way through my errands saying that someone had donated some medical supplies to me. Two vials of insulin, blood glucose test strips, and a few packages of syringes. I was in tears when I got there, and when one of the nurses handed me the gift, I broke down in sobs and cried on her shoulder. It was the most meaningful gift I have ever received and I owe my life to whoever donated it to me.
I had triplets last year and someone I work with has brought me a hot meal once a week or so for the entire first year of their lives so I wouldn’t have to worry about cooking.
The thing is, she drops them off ninja-style, not wanting to impose. She’ll text me that she left something on the porch. It has been one of the nicest things anyone has ever done for me.
I lost my job, then lost my house, then lost my car. Pretty bad situation for anyone that has had this happen. My friend was moving from MI to S.C. and she asked me to help her move into her apt. My other friend drove me to S.C. so we could both help out. I am in GA, so not too far away. When I left from that weekend, she handed me a set of keys and said that she realized that since her and her husband work for the same company, they do not need a car, the car was paid off and they gave me their other car! Who does that? Gives someone a car? I have been blessed ever since.
When my husband was diagnosed with lung cancer in August of 1999 he was working for a small family owned trucking company. Once they were forced to take him off their insurance they contacted me about paying for Cobra insurance. I was a stay at home mom and had no money to pay for that, thanked them for the information and hung up.
Two days later, I got a call from the daughter-in-law of the owner. She said that I would be getting a paper in the mail that I was to sign. Paper said that I agreed to pay for our part of the Cobra and that the policy would be instated on such & such a date. I said…but I told you…I can’t pay for that. She said I was not to worry about it, just do it. I did. Someone in the family called me once a week to keep tabs on how he was doing up until his death in Jan of 2000. They, obviously, thought a great deal of him. Forever grateful.
Saved my dad
My dad recently lost his job, and with it his health insurance. He had a heart attack last year, and has to take Effient as a result. A one-month supply is around $250 without the insurance to help. He went to his doctor’s office yesterday to find a coupon to at least shave off some of the cost. A nurse went in the back, and ended up coming back with a two-month supply of free samples for him. Saved my parents from paying $500 out of pocket for a drug he absolutely needed.
Three months ago my son was diagnosed with cancer. Most of the medical bills are covered by medicaid, but all the other expenses really add up.
Over the last three months friends, family members, and people I do not even know have written us letters, cooked us dinner, and even given us money. A friend even set up a website where people can donate to help us over the next three years (the end of my son’s treatment).
My employees took up a collection for my family, and several called HR to ask if they could donate vacation time to me so I could stay home longer. Even though HR would not allow them to donate vacation time, by boss worked it out so that I can work remotely whenever my son is in the hospital (which is pretty often).
One family stopped by my house a couple weeks ago and gave us a gift card to Target. They were able to buy us the gift card because their children (around the age of 6) had done a lemonade stand to raise money for us.
Remembering the outpouring of generosity really helps me fight off the bitterness I feel when I see my little boy so sick.
I will never be able to show an adequate amount of appreciation to these people, but I hope they know that in a very literal sense they have helped restore my faith in humanity.
I was 16, borrowing my mom’s car. Didn’t look at the car in front of me when it stopped for a left turn, and I bumped into it. It was a brand new car and has clear marks on the bumper from where I hit it. No damage to my mom’s car. Dude clearly sees how distraught I am and says, “Aw, don’t worry about it, that’ll buff out. No harm done,” and drives off.
Struggling Single Mom
As a struggling single mom I had trouble paying the daycare bills. This was especially hard if child support didn’t come, which was often. The daycare director allowed my child to attend without me paying on time. She would delete all late fees and allow me to slowly catch up. They would stay after hours if my job ran late and meet me. They became a kind of family for my son and I.
I tried to give back when I was a elementary education student by volunteering and helping out. I ended up going to school with some of the girls working there. We are all teachers now and trade lesson ideas and job opportunities.
When I was in first grade, my mom was really struggling financially. She mentioned something about how hard Thanksgiving was gonna be to one of my classmates moms. Well the week before Thanksgiving, there was a raffle where we could win an entire Thanksgiving dinner. My teacher gave every student two cards from a deck. When she gave me mine she kinda said “wait” and checked them before she gave them back to me. I won the raffle. Even if she hadn’t checked the cards, I’d have suspected something. I never win anything.
Need a Lift
When my dad was in college his car broke down one night on the side of a road that was not very busy. The first person going by stopped and gave my dad a ride to a service station. It turned out that the guy who picked my dad up also attended the same college and they started hanging out.
Now, close to 40 years later, they’re still very close friends.
On September 14th, 1986, my dad dropped me off at boarding school and gave me a five dollar bill. I never heard from him again. He never paid my tuition bill.
So from the age of 14, I took every job I could get and worked my way through. At $4 an hour, I didn’t even come close to paying off my entire bill, but the school let me stick around because I was a model student in and out of the classroom.
We get to graduation. I opened my little diploma thing expecting to see a bill in five figures. Instead there was a note.
Congratulations on your graduation. A group of us who believe in you and love you have taken care of your bill. We are proud to present you with your diploma.
I later found out that one of my friend’s dad, a fairly well off dentist, went fundraising among his golf buddies because he was having none of my entering life at eighteen under crushing debt.
I once failed a test in college and was really upset. As I was taking the bus home I was trying really hard to hold it together long enough to not cry in public, by trying to hide my tears with my sleeve. A girl walked over, handed me a tissue without saying a word, and went back to her seat. It was so nice to have a stranger help me keep it together without trying to pry into my business.
Last month, I dropped my car off to this mechanic that apparently is good with Volkswagens. I explained to him that I have NO idea what’s wrong with my car and a handful of other mechanics have already looked at it and they never seem to fix it (and I always get billed).
So a month goes by, he calls me and tells me he’s been doing what he can to the car, but nothing seems to work. Therefore, it cannot pass inspection. Sigh.
I go to his garage today, meet with him and talk a bit about what I can do if I want to sell the car. Finally I ask, “what do I owe you?”
“Nothing, don’t worry about it.”
I told him I can afford what he would charge for an inspection, at least let me pay that. He refused any money from me and offered to tow my car back to my place, since I cannot drive a car that is not inspected.
Lost Job and Single
At one point I lost my job and my girlfriend of 2 years left me so I couldn’t pay for my apartment anymore. Since my name was on the lease I was forced to figure something out. I had a chat with my landlord and told him the truth.
His response? “Don’t worry about it, stay until you can figure something out.”
I looked for a job for 2 1/2 months until I felt so bad about staying there rent free so I packed all of my stuff and moved back into my parents basement. He never asked for a dime of back rent.
I have since joined the military, gotten married, and have a house of my own, but I will never forget that man’s act of kindness.
My wife and I are both 30, been married 4 years and are unable to have children naturally. We have just gotten to the point financially where we can afford our first IVF treatment.
We were planning on taking out a loan for the full amount of $16,000 (our insurance doesn’t cover it) and then using our savings to pay for the meds, an additional 5 grand. We had all this ready to go, a 4 year loan at 11%, when we got a call from my wife’s uncle.
We don’t know him very well, but were floored to learn he wanted to lend us the money, including a $2500 gift for the meds… He insisted that we didn’t need to worry about paying him back but we will, and we will love him forever for his generosity.
We still both have student loans to pay, so this was a godsend. There are amazing people in this world.
My family and I spent Christmas in Hawaii, and on our trip back (we had about a five-hour drive to get back home from the airport) we stopped at a rest area. I had been looking at photos from our trip on our digital camera, and it must have been in my lap when I got out of the car and dropped into the parking lot.
When we got home, I looked high and low for the camera and couldn’t find it anywhere. A few weeks later, we got a call from a police officer who lived in our state’s capitol (not where we lived) saying someone had found the camera. On it, was a picture of my folks motorhome (from a previous trip) and you could make out the license plate number. This guy was from another state, just passing through, found our camera at the rest area, contacted the police with the plate number, the police looked up the plate, and contacted us! The guy then mailed us back our camera. It was the nicest thing a stranger had ever done for us. We mailed him back a thank you card and a gift certificate to a restaurant in their area. “Today you, tomorrow me.”
When I was in college I was a physics major aiming to be an Astrophysicist but it was just killing me. I was having a whole identity crisis and feeling worthless and why couldn’t I wrap my head around some of these things? In a move of desperation I left a message on Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s site asking for advice. To my GREAT surprise, he actually took time out to CALL ME and give me really honest and understanding advice about what I should do and being realistic about the world of Physics. I only graduated with a minor in Physics but I felt much better and will have a respect for both him and science forever. May not be a sob story, but at that fragile time in my life it really made a huge difference.
My roommates and I were planning to move into a new apartment in our apartment complex. Literally, a week before our move-in date, the landlord apartment manager approaches me and basically says, “Oops, I signed your lease over to someone else.” My roommates and I had already signed the lease contract to that apartment, but for some reason, the apartment manager said the “current” residents had priority. I was flustered and just told the manager that I would talk to my roommates. Apparently, the only available rooms left in that complex was in terrible, terrible condition that had maggots and mould growing in it (that the manager said he wouldn’t deal with), and a townhouse (which my roommates and I really did not like).
My roommates and I were really distressed, because we only had a couple of days to figure out what we were doing, and I was so distraught with the situation that I wasn’t really thinking clearly. I was complaining to my boss who works in real estate, and she was furious and said that what my manager did was illegal, especially since I had already signed the lease contract. So, she called up the appropriate authorities and sorted everything out.
Shady landlord apartment manager got fired, the dirty apartment was completely renovated, and we got a month of free rent.
My incredibly generous landlord keeps pretending he “can’t make it” to collect this month’s rent, because he knows I don’t really have it yet.
Gas man with the gas can
Ran out of gas and a man happened to drive by with a can of gas. He let me have the gas and refused to be repaid.
When I was a kid, my parents didn’t have any money at all. It was tough for them. We had plenty of food, clothes, and healthcare as necessary, however, this left little to no room for toys. I had been passed down a bicycle from a neighbor, and I rode that bike constantly. It was so beat up, but I loved that bike.
Well one day a neighbor came to visit my mom from down the street in her car. I was out riding my bicycle and she called me in to play in the backyard, because they were going to talk and it was easier to keep an eye on me. When the neighbor went to leave, she came running back in and apologized she had run over my bicycle. I was devastated, but within 30 minutes she came back with a brand new bike that was my favorite color and fit for me to ride. She purposely ran over my bike knowing she would have to buy me a new one, because my parents couldn’t afford to buy me a new bicycle.