Therra Gwyn-Jaramillo was so excited to arrive at Whole Foods with her $250 gift card — finally, real food!
She’d been struggling in recent years, and on top of everything else, she’d just been hit with a nearly $4,000 bill to replace her hot water heater. Therra lives and cares for her disabled brother and her large assortment of rescue animals… and they’d all been subsisting on rice for a while. But out of the goodness of her heart, a friend had given her the grocery store gift certificate so she could go treat herself.
“I went to a Whole Foods across town with a dream of hummus and fresh food. Real dog food for the pups. Maybe a pizza with roasted exotic toppings,” she wrote in a now-viral Facebook post.
But it’s easy to overdo it at a place like Whole Foods, and by the time she arrived at the checkout line, she was well over the $250 limit. Dazed and confused, Therra realized that some of her things were being rung up with the items from the customer in front of her.
Therra was stunned, to say the least. He ended up paying for all $375 worth of her groceries, which meant she would have her gift card for another day. “I stared wide-eyed at this handsome young African-American man,” she wrote. And then, she started to cry.
She struck up a conversation with the man, who revealed his name was Chris, “I tripped over my words, all the while thinking, ‘I’m talking to an angel. Should I tell him? Should I tell him he’s an angel?’
‘Who ARE you?’ I asked at one point, in true wonder. ‘Just a guy,’ he said. No. Not ‘just a guy.’ I thought. No.”
But the true shock came when she learned who her hero really was.
We all know that it’s hard to place people out of context, especially when the only context you’ve seen the person in is at a concert, in a music video or, say, accepting a Grammy.
So the cashier helped clue her in after he’d walked out: “You know that’s Ludacris, right?”
“WHAT?” she screamed.
What Ludacris had no way of knowing is that his quiet kindness and generous gesture came at a moment when my candle was out. He used his personal light to fire up my own. Isn’t that what we should be doing for each other?
Therra finished out with a lesson we can all take to heart: “Be like Ludacris… Pay it forward. We can, every one of us, do SOMEthing for others. You never know a stranger’s full story when you reach out a hand and yank them into a better place.”
And Therra definitely has taken the experience to heart, starting a fundraiser on Facebook that’s since garnered $1,000 for The Ludacris Foundation, the singer’s namesake charity that empowers youth through education and community initiatives.
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