“Teen’s Good Deed at Target Makes Toddler’s Day” originally appeared on Yahoo Parenting and was reprinted with permission.
Megan Shufflebarger just wanted to get an idea of what her daughter Kinley hoped to unwrap on her third birthday, but she got a whole lot more during a trip to Target.
A college student overheard her and the toddler talking about an Our Generation doll that Kinley liked, and he walked up and took it — to buy for the girl. The stranger returned to the family inside the Lafayette, Ind., store moments later with the $35 doll in a bag and said, “Happy birthday, you enjoy your dolly,” Shufflebarger wrote on Facebook of that night on Oct. 22. “Seriously. What a reminder to never loose [sic] faith in humanity and to be generous and pay it forward,” she added. “To this generous young man, whoever you are, I hope you see this and more importantly, I hope you know what a good young man you are.”
But the Indiana mother of three (including son Colton, 7, and Sophia, 4) needn’t have worried. After her thank-you post was shared 55,000 times, she tells Yahoo Parenting that she discovered that “a friend of a friend of a friend” knew the do-gooder and helped her get in touch. The sweet stranger turned out to be a freshman football player at Purdue University, Tario Fuller, who has been getting lots more praise for his generous gesture now that Shufflebarger’s post has been viewed 128,000 times in less than a week. (Yahoo Parenting wasn’t able to reach Fuller for comment.)
The mom says that he deserves every bit of the recognition he’s received. “I was like, ‘Oh, my god, I can’t even believe you just did that,’” she says, explaining that she was “so distracted trying to absorb what had happened” that she forgot to get Fuller’s name — though, as a photographer, she didn’t think twice about snapping a quick picture. “I mean, he’s a young kid in college,” she continues. “What do you say about somebody that humble at that young an age?”
Since the family reached out to properly thank Fuller — and invite him to Kinley’s birthday party this weekend, which he unfortunately can’t attend due to football practice — Shufflebarger says that her appreciation for the 19-year-old has only grown. “He really does just seem like such an all-around good kid.” When she asked him point-blank why he took the time, and money, to brighten Kinley’s day, the mother says, “He said, ‘That’s just who I am.’ He likes to randomly give things to people and do good things.”
And his do-gooding has had a ripple effect in her family. “My older kids seem to have taken away a lot from this,” she says. Her 7-year-old (seen in the Stormtrooper costume in Shufflebarger’s Facebook photo, above) “thought it was so cool that we didn’t know him and that he had some money to spend but he didn’t spend it on himself and chose to spend it on somebody else,” she says. As a result, she adds, the boy has begun brainstorming ways that he too could help other people. “That, to me, is just incredible,” says Shufflebarger. “It means the world to me that my son can see that everybody can do good in the world. I’d be so tickled if he were doing things like [Tario did] at his age.”
As for Kinley, she’s been smiling wide since she got that doll. According to her mom’s Facebook post, “She has slept with it every night since.”
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