Kindness makes the ordinary extraordinary

"Kindness is Contagious" columnist Nicole J. Phillips shares a story about unexpected kindness at the grocery store that made for a special day for a mother and her young daughter.

A kind stranger at the grocery store helped make the day special for 5-year-old Alaina and her mom. Special to The Forum
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Isn’t it fun when we’re just going about life as usual and kindness steps in to make the day special?

That happened recently to a woman in Wisconsin who shared this story with me.

"It was a regular grocery shopping Tuesday. Alaina, our 5-year-old, was taking a break from virtual kindergarten and tagging along.

"As we walk in, Alaina asks if we can stop at the machines. These are the machines dispensing big colorful balls of bubblegum for a quarter or a plastic toy surprise for fifty cents. They are purposely set to grab kids’ attention with bright signage at eye level which inevitably halts kids in their tracks, causing mom and dad to trip over their own children.

"That day, there was a white unicorn in the claw machine that grabbed Alaina’s eye. We weren’t in a rush, so I told her she could play one time. My smart momma self thought this was going to be a great learning lesson to show her these machines just eat your money. My younger self remembered the excitement of the claw game and watched Alaina show me how to stick the dollar in.


"I picked her up to see as she grabbed the joystick. All the lights were flashing, the music going, and everything about those machines was rooting for Alaina to win the unicorn. A lady with short brown hair and a black coat on her way into the store had even stopped to watch Alaina win. Alaina placed the claw in just the right spot and we decided it was now or never.

"The claw went down… and came up with nothing. It may have touched the corner of the unicorn, but that thing was jammed in there. 'Again! Again!' Alaina pleaded. 'Sorry honey, that was your one time. Let’s go get groceries.'

A kind stranger at the grocery store helped make the day special for 5-year-old Alaina and her mom. Special to The Forum


"As I put Alaina down to walk into the store, the lady who had stopped to watch asked, 'How much is it?'
"'Oh, that’s OK,' I say.

"'It’s one dollar!' Alaina says confidently.

"The lady pulls a paper single out of her purse, hands it to Alaina, wishes her good luck and walks into the store.


"My heart soars thinking about this stranger. I figured the machine was about to eat her dollar, but the kindness she showed was priceless.

"Alaina stuck the dollar in and decided to go after the snowman. In a fantastic ending to a kindness story, the claw grabbed the snowman and dropped it down the chute. Alaina held it the entire way through the grocery store.

"We looked for the sweet lady with brown hair in a black coat who gave us a dollar, but never saw her. Every time we look at that snowman, we will remember her kindness."

I think even without winning a snowman, that momma would have been awfully touched by a stranger’s ability to make an ordinary grocery shopping Tuesday special.

Please continue to share your stories of kindness with me at

Nicole J. Phillips, a former Fargo television anchor, is a speaker, author and host of The Kindness Podcast. She lives in Aberdeen, S.D., with her three children and her husband, Saul Phillips, the head men's basketball coach at Northern State University. You can visit Nicole at

Nicole J. Phillips
Nicole Phillips, Kindness is Contagious columnist.


Nicole J. Phillips
Nicole Phillips, Kindness is Contagious columnist.

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