An Unexpected Shopping Trip
When a mother and her son headed out on a shopping trip on a warm Florida December day, they never could have imagined the surprise that was in store for them. After spotting an elderly gentleman in need of some assistance, this mother and son would soon find their lives changed through a single act of kindness.
This story is so empowering, we’re sure you’ll tear up!
A Typical Excursion to Walmart
North Port, Florida is not known for its cooler climate, even during December, and it was on one of these warm days before Christmas that Melissa Whittington arrived at the store to pick up a few items with her son Philip. As she approached the entrance, she didn’t notice the older man standing outside the store, but she would soon realize he was more than meets the eye.
An Elderly Gentlemen
Bill Greenham was an 89-year-old senior who was living out his retirement in sunny Florida. Enjoying his twilight years basking on the beach and taking in the stunning sunsets, he had decided to do a little shopping for necessities on this particular day.
An Army Veteran
Greenham was a proud Army veteran who had served the country during World War II. Seeing the horrors of war had changed him throughout the years, and now he was committed to serving others through random acts of kindness. Unfortunately, his mobility was limited due to his age and he had to walk with a cane. This made shopping for extended lengths of time quite difficult.
A Broken Bag of Groceries
It was just about this time that Whittington and her son were approaching the store and Greenham’s grocery bag ripped, spilling oranges and other items out onto the pavement. He struggled to bend over, trying to keep his balance so he could pick up the items. Would anyone come to his aid?
Rushing Over to Help
Whittington didn’t think twice about rushing over to help the struggling elderly man. She and Philip helped collect his items and made sure he was okay. It was then they began to strike up a conversation.
A Very Unmerry Birthday
Whittington revealed that it was Philip’s 9th birthday, but sadly she hadn’t been able to purchase any birthday presents and Christmas was looking to be meager in the gift department. They had arrived at Walmart to pick up his broken glasses, which she had fixed in lieu of presents.
A Rough Year
Even though Greenham was a stranger, Whittington found herself opening up to him about her troubles. She revealed it had been a rough year financially, and they were barely getting by. However, she wanted to make sure Philip’s glasses were fixed even though it was an expense she really couldn’t afford.
An Act of Kindness
Greenham comforted the stressed mother and wished the young boy a happy birthday. However, he then said something that surprised Whittington. “I want to do something for you. What would you like for the little boy?” he said.
Why Would He Offer?
Whittington was taken aback. Why would this stranger, an elderly man who could barely stand on his own want to help her? However, there was another layer to this story unbeknownst to Whittington, and soon all would be revealed.
A Man with a Plan
The truth was…Greenham hadn’t dropped his groceries by mistake. In reality, it had been an act to see who would come and help him. And he wasn’t working alone, there was a whole team of people involved in the elaborate setup, looking for people who would selflessly do a good deed.
A Volunteer for the Police Department
However, that wasn’t all. Greenham was actually a volunteer for the North Port Police Department. The local police officers had actually placed cameras all around the parking lot and were watching the elaborate act from their cruisers. But why?
Something Unexpected This Way Comes…
Greenham’s exchange with Whittington and Philip was all captured on video and aired on the local news. What happened next would cause the video to go viral on social media. You won’t believe the twist in this story.
Everything Will Be Okay
As Whittington began to cry over Greenham’s kindness and her current situation, he hugged her and told her that soon all would be okay. Meanwhile, inside the store, a group of workers was quickly wrapping gifts to take outside.
A Team of Santa’s Helpers
The team inside were more volunteers and they were trying to wrap presents as quickly as possible. The only way the entire setup would work is if the payoff at the end took place. You won’t believe what happens next!
A Christmas Surprise
Moments later, a group of people holding presents exited the store and approached Philip. It seemed he was going to get a birthday present after all–a brand new scooter! To say Whittington was overcome with emotion would be an understatement. The tears quickly began to flow as she saw the pure joy on her son’s face.
Operation Santa Surprise
The entire operation was part of the North Port Police Department’s “Operation Santa Surprise.” The goal was to provide random acts of kindness to those who had helped Greenham. Can you believe how awesome these officers are?
Giving Back to the Community
According to the police department, they wanted to give back to the local community for Christmas. Therefore, they set up Greenham outside the store to see who would come to his aid when he dropped the groceries. Then, they would reward those who did. What a cool endeavor!
Rewarding Good Behavior
“We want to show not just only what North Port police officers are doing but really show that police officers, as a whole, care,” police spokesman Josh Taylor told WFLA.com. The officers felt it was important to show the community that they weren’t just out to penalize people for doing things wrong.
Spreading Christmas Cheer
Throughout the course of the day, the police department gave gifts to over 15 different families. And the giving didn’t stop there! Police officers across North Port handed out gifts at routine traffic stops as well. Give it up for the men in blue!
A Christmas Message for Kids
“To have cops come out and not give you a ticket or pull you over, they are always there to help you. They are always there to help you and I think it shows the kids as they grow up these officers are here to make things better, ” an emotional Whittington told Fox News.
A Very Merry Christmas
The officers continued to go above and beyond with their gift giving and even handed out presents to some of the Walmart workers. They were determined to spread as much Christmas cheer as possible!
The generosity of the police officers made a major impact on Whittington who had worried that Philip wasn’t going to have a happy birthday or even a merry Christmas. “I’m shocked. I’m amazed that people are so generous at this time of year.”
“We have been through so much this year,” Whittington told Fox News. “For these men to bless our family like this. I simply have no words. Philip deserves so much. He’s a such a good boy.”
And to say Philip wasn’t grateful would be an insult to his kind character.
Understanding the Message
When asked if Philip understood why the police department was doing this for people, he had the perfect reply: “Well… it wouldn’t be a Merry Christmas if you weren’t nice to people.”
So true, Philip. We hope he and his family had a wonderful holiday and turned their luck around. It’s amazing how a single act of kindness can change someone’s perspective forever.