What started out as a typical weekly trip to the grocery store turned into a lesson in the kindness of strangers for a Hamilton non-profit.
Earlier this week, an anonymous Good Samaritan paid a $485 food bill for Homestead Christian Care — a local organization that provides affordable housing and support services — after he spotted their brimming grocery carts ahead of his in line.
"He asked if we were a charity. I’m used to people asking me why I’m buying so much, so I told him what we do," said Tineke VanderHoeven, who works at the organization’s group home on Wentworth St.
'It’s the spontaneous nature that shows good will. It’s just a wonderful thing that shows people care about those who have less than themselves. —Jeff Neven, Homestead Christian Care
The stranger, whose name VanderHoeven didn’t get, pressed further and asked again, "But, are you a charity?" When she told him they were a non-profit, he offered to pay for the groceries — two carts full.
"There’s this chill that goes through you that’s unreal," VanderHoeven said of the experience. "You don’t really believe it at first. It warms your heart."
The group home where VanderHoeven works helps people with disabilities with their day-to-day household needs, as well as providing meals and medication, according to Homestead’s executive director, Jeff Neven.
"It’s a continuum of housing and support," he explained, adding their services often help people move from homelessness to employment and independence.
The groceries bought provided a week’s worth of meals for the 25-bed group home. The organization often gets cash donations, but a random act of good like this has never happened before, Neven said.
"It’s the spontaneous nature that shows good will," he said. "It’s just a wonderful thing that shows people care about those who have less than themselves."
After the unknown benefactor finished paying, VanderHoeven says she gave him a hug and he simply returned to his place in line, "as though nothing has even happened."
Wilma Stolk, one of the tenants of the home, was with VanderHoeven on the shopping trip. She, too, was left speechless by the kind act.
"I was surprised," she said. "It was very generous. He was like Santa Claus."