Last week, I shared part one of the story of a single mom struggling to make ends meet with her teenage son.
It's the backdrop of pain in our lives that gives our joy such brilliance. And often, it's receiving an act of kindness at just the right time that spurs us to do the same for others.
Here's the conclusion of our story.
"I had just spent the 99 cents scraped from my couch cushions on my burger when my phone rang. My mind was still on the young man working at the drive-thru, wearing just a T-shirt because he didn't have enough money to buy a coat.
My friend's husband, a pastor, asked if I was home because he had something he wanted to drop off that couldn't be left outside.
I raced home to find this dear man standing in my entryway with a big box. 'Every year our church does food baskets for a holiday meal. I thought of you and your son,' he explained.
Then he handed me two envelopes. 'One is a gift card to the grocery store, and here's an extra gift.'
Inside the second envelope was a very generous gift card to Walmart. I tried unsuccessfully to hold back the tears as I thanked my friend.
I picked up my son from his Christmas party and began to regale the events of the night to him as he listened in amazement. Then I looked at him and said 'Nathaniel, I think we need to go to Walmart and buy a coat.'
'I was thinking the same thing, Mom.'
We examined every coat in the men's section for style, warmth and durability. After our very concentrated efforts, we selected a coat and then swung through the gift wrap section for a big bag and some tissue paper.
I pulled up to the Wendy's drive-thru for the second time that night feeling almost giddy. But what was I going to say? I hadn't thought this part through. Then that voice came over the tiny menu speaker: 'Can I take your order?'
'Well no. I was here a little earlier. Can I pull up to the window?'
When the window opened I thrust the bag at a very bewildered looking young man.
'What's this? Who is this for? Who is this from?'
'It's for you. Merry Christmas. I want you to know that God loves you and this is a gift from us to you.'
'But you don't even know me.'
'Doesn't matter. I know you needed a coat. Stay warm and have a good night.'
I waved and pulled away from the window. Awkward, but amazing! Really amazing.
As we slowly drove away, Nathaniel watched as the young man tried the coat on in front of his co-workers. They were smiling and admiring the jacket. A few were even crying.
We drove home on a cloud that is hard to describe. My son spoke the words I was feeling. 'Mom, I feel so good right now. I've never felt so good before!'
Yep, I thought, me too. No money could ever buy that feeling of blessing someone who really needs it."
Please continue to share your stories of kindness with me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or send a letter to Kindness is Contagious c/o Nicole J. Phillips, The Forum, 101 5th St. N., Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107.
Nicole J. Phillips is a former television anchor for Fox News in Fargo. She is a writer, speaker and mother of three kids. Nicole is married to Ohio University's men's head basketball coach Saul Phillips. You can visit Nicole at " target="_blank">nicolejphillips.com.