Generous Mystery Family Hands Out Cash, Pays For Purchases, At Indiana Goodwill

Over the weekend, a family in Valparaiso, IN, took the name of the Goodwill store quite literally, handing out money to shoppers and paying for their purchases at the checkout line.

“They came in and had a stack of Christmas card envelopes, and that’s what they started passing out to everybody,” the Goodwill district manager tells about the family, which included a couple, their children and one grandma. “One of the ladies that had been handed one of the cards came up to the register and opened it, and it was a Christmas card and there was money. It said ‘Merry Christmas Angel.'”

And when the cash envelopes were gone, the family stuck around, taking seats by the cashiers and paying as people came up to buy stuff.

Explains the district manager, “They said a couple of years ago they were in a position that (the mother) could only shop at Goodwill, and now that they were doing well they sort of pay that back… They said they didn’t need anything for themselves for Christmas. Their Christmas gift to themselves was being able to give back to everybody else.”

This family isn’t alone in sharing the holiday spirit with shoppers. Earlier this month, woman in Michigan picked three random strangers to pay off their Kmart layaway bills, and one of our readers even got into the spirit by doing the same in her area.

Anonymous family shares wealth, happiness with Valpo Goodwill shoppers []


Edit Your Comment

  1. Cat says:

    Well played, good Samaritans, well played.

  2. Agent Hooter Enjoys Enhanced Patdowns says:

    Now I’m beginning to feel like a selfish git for going the presents route….

  3. Starrion says:

    Keep posting these stories please.

    Knowing that there are people out there helping people of their own accord, simply because it is Christmas has been making this year seem a little happier.

  4. pop top says:

    This is what Christmas is supposed to be about, helping other people and being compassionate. Now if only everyone could be so helpful all year round.

  5. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    I’d like to see an athiest do this. Not that they wouldn’t, but I’d be cool to see during the holiday time someone giving out gifts, or money, or gift cards, etc., with a “good will toward men” but not a religious tone. Of course, if that person pointed out that they were an athiest, then that would overshadow the good deed once reported.

    • Cat says:

      I am, and I do.

      • AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

        No, you aren’t, and you don’t, you just want to be cool and reply to my post.

      • caradrake says:

        Can cats be atheists? Don’t they believe *they* are the gods?

        • Cat says:

          The Cats’ religion is based around a god named ‘Cloister’ who saved Frankenstein – the holy mother – by being frozen in time, allowing the cat’s virgin birth to continue unhindered. (Note: ‘Virgin birth’ my butt! It was a big black Tom on Titan.) Their image of heaven – Fuchal – features Lister’s Fijian dream to set up a hot-dog and donut diner.

          A holy war followed between that cats who believed the donut diner hats should be red and those who thought they were supposed to be blue. (Note: They were actually supposed to be green.) As the war subsided, the two factions fled Red Dwarf in two arks in search of Fuchal. Sadly their guiding star-chart was in actuality Lister’s old dirty laundry list, and the first ark flew straight into an asteroid.

          Left behind were the sick and the lame, the dying. The Cat was cared for by a blind cat priest after his parents – a cripple and an idiot – passed away. The Cat was later adopted by David Lister as a replacement for Frankenstein. (Note: The cat seems unfazed by meeting his people’s deity, perhaps because his supposed ‘god’ is often to be found trimming his toe-nails with his teeth.)

    • pop top says:

      How do you know atheists aren’t doing this? But I do get your point. I have some friends who say you don’t have to be religious to be moral and I agree, but I’d like to see them donate more time and money instead of just talking a big game.

      • AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

        opened it, and it was a Christmas card and there was money. It said ‘Merry Christmas Angel.'”

        I figure this person wasn’t an athiest.

        Not that I have an issue with the message in the note, it is far better than something pushing the acceptance of the faith.

        While there are athiests who donate money and time, it seems like these types of unstructred and hands on events are done by religious folks.

        • castlecraver says:

          Actually, studies have shown that the incidence of charitable giving and volunteering are very similar between people who self-identify as religious vs non-religious. This 2007 UK study is probably the most notable, but I know there are others. (see , only siting this blog because the report is a lengthy PDF, but it’s provided therein)

          A more reasonable hypothesis to explain the (anecdotal) phenomenon you’re describing is that a higher percentage of religious people are more overt in advertising their affiliations and/or motivations when being charitable. I imagine this effect is amplified in the US, where among those who affiliate with a religion, it is in general a more overt part of their’s identity/lifestyle compared to the religious population of European countries.

        • The Lita says:

          I know many agnostics, athiests, and pagans who use the term “angel.” While it does have a religious conotation, it is not always used as such.

          Also, those people tend to be the most charitable people I know…far outshining my Christian friends.

          I actually agree with your theory though. I’m sure if someone self-identified as an athiest when performing an act of kindness such as this, then the fact that they were an athiest would be reported on more heavily than the act itself. Mostly because it would be silly to throw about your religious beliefs while being charitable. It would take away from the altruistic-ness of the deed.

        • impatientgirl says:

          I’m Athiest and I give to charities all year. I don’t run around screaming “I’M AN ATHIEST!!” but some know I am. I even give to my mother’s family church because they do so much good for anyone who needs it.

    • Jules Noctambule says:

      Very interesting assumptions you’re making.

      • AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

        The only assumption in my post is that if this was done by an athiest (and it was made apparent somehow) that the person being an athiest would overshadow the good deed within the news/blog reports.

        • Ihmhi says:

          I’m an Atheist and I agree.

          It’d be something like “Even the ATHEISTS are getting into the Christmas spirit! It’s muh-muh-muh-muh-MADNESS-ess-ess-ess!”

          (In my mind, the news is anchored by the guy who does those monster truck commercials. SUNDAY SUNDAY SUHN-DAYE!)

    • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

      as an atheist who is formerly really poor and previously homeless, i’ll be keeping up my tradition of giving a bunch of new gloves and hats and blankets to the local shelter. but i just drop them off, i don’t stop to hand things out and say “happy winter from your local atheist”

      • AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

        “i don’t stop to hand things out and say “happy winter from your local atheist”

        Well, it would be tacky to say that. Perhaps you could put it on a label inside the clothes. :D

    • ajlei says:

      I am an atheist, but unfortunately also a poor college student. However, someday when this engineering degree pays off, you can bet I will try to do something like this.

  6. Kuri says:

    Well, this kinda brightens my day with the lack fo snow.

  7. clippy2.0 says:


  8. Ablinkin says:

    Wow, simply wow. The generosity of this family is amazing.

  9. LaurelHS says:

    I hope this kind family has a wonderful Christmas!

  10. Velifer says:

    Um, Goodwill stores will provide merchandise for free to anyone unable to pay. Nice of the family and all, but kinda pointless.

    • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

      which goodwill do you shop at? i live in a state where there are actually two separate organizations [tenuously related to each other] that identify as Goodwill. They operate on slightly different sets of rules. the one in my region doesn’t have any kind of sliding scale or free stuff for people who can’t pay.
      i’m pretty sure the other organization is the same one that i used to deal with in florida and they also didn’t follow the practice you describe

    • Outrun1986 says:

      I am sure there are people in the donut hole who make just enough money to be right over the limit for getting free items but who don’t make nearly enough money to live on, thus they are forced to shop at goodwill. For these people having a few items paid for for them might make a world of difference. Over here you must have a voucher for free goodwill items and it must be verified, so they do not hand out items randomly for free just because you are unable to pay.

  11. Outrun1986 says:

    I really like this idea, I think people want to know where their donations go so they have taken to this method of giving back to random people. When you donate to a charity or donate a dollar to whatever cause at every store that asks you have no idea what is actually being done with that money, and it may not even be getting into the hands of people who can actually use it. When you give directly to someone then you know it is going to at least help that person and not to pad a charity’s advertising budget or going into the pockets of some manager at a retail store.

    • jenniferrose76 says:

      I agree! And a lot of the charities that give out toys for Christmas get their referrals for recipients from the state welfare offices. Some people are working poor but don’t quite qualify for state assistance, and thus get automatically excluded from toy-giving organizations. I think this is an awesome idea-hopefully next holiday season I will be in a position to help, either this way or paying off layaways or something like that. This year, just not even possible, sadly!
      (And PS-as an agnostic, I would sooooo sign cards “A little something from the Flying Spaghetti Monster” lol)