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When Stranger in Line Learns Why Family is Buying 81 Teddy Bears, Gives Cashier Money



There’s no bond quite like the one shared by parents and their children. Similarly, few can ever duplicate the connection forged between siblings.

So when a child dies, the loss parents and siblings feel can be profoundly excruciating. Perhaps even more heartbreaking is the loss of a baby who never even got the chance to live.

Jill Smith Shumacher understands these feelings on an intensely personal level. She herself lost a precious little one when her own baby was stillborn.

Her older daughter, Emma, was equally devastated to lose a younger sibling in such a tragic way. So she decided to start a project called “Sibling Wings.”

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Emma’s initiative helps encourage other children forced to say goodbye to their own siblings too soon.

Accordingly, she assembles reassuring, kid-friendly care packages that include snuggly stuffed animals.

Recently, mother and daughter were out shopping together. They came across two five-foot-high bins filled with friendly-looking teddy bears and other toys.

The toys were all on sale, and Emma instantly realized what she needed to do. So she and her mother set about picking through both tall boxes, pulling out a total of 81 teddy bears that would make wonderfully comforting companions.

They then addressed the monumental task of transporting 81 fluffy friends toward the front of the store, where the checkout lines were.

Once that was accomplished, the register clerk needed to hand-count the entire unwieldy assembly before ringing everything up.

A stranger came upon these whimsical proceedings when he took his place in line. He asked Jill what she was doing with all these adorable bears.

The proud mom candidly explained Emma’s fundraising project, giving the unknown man a poignant window into their own painful circumstances.

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That’s when he asked if he could help pay for their purchase.

“I looked at him and couldn’t find any words to say to him,” Jill explained to media outlets. True to his word, the stranger stepped forward and gave the cashier a substantial sum of money.

As her own tears began helplessly welling up, Jill gratefully mouthed a simple yet sincere “thank you.” And the kindly man proceeded on his way.

The world is shadowed by ongoing loss, trial, and sorrow — that’s for certain. But it’s also brightened by gracious hearts, and random acts of kindness.

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