Last week a stranger paid for a Monroe couple’s groceries at Stop & Shop. Their daughter, Susan Cornut, said her father, 93, and mother, 88, were at the checkout counter when a woman standing behind them insisted on paying their $50-plus grocery bill.
She reportedly said this was one of 26 good deeds she planned to do. Cornut said, “She told them they were ‘her lucky No. 9.’”
“My parents were floored,” Cornut said. “At first they didn’t understand what was going on.”
When Cornut explained the connection between this thoughtful gesture and the Newtown school tragedy, her parents were amazed. “This really made it even more special to them,” Cornut said.
This was only one of the selfless acts taking place around Monroe during the past couple of weeks. “It’s really wonderful,” Cornut said. “I think this is in keeping with what the people of Sandy Hook would like — they want to portray hope, peace and love.”
A ‘For you’ envelope
A few days after Christmas, Masuk senior Julia Liburdi tried to pay for her drink at Starbucks on Main Street. Instead of taking her money, the barista handed her an envelope that was left by the previous customer. The envelope’s front cover said, “For you.”
Julia said, “In the envelope was a gift card to Starbucks and a letter that said, ‘In memory of Josephine Gay (age seven), who died in the Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting. Wishing you a happy holiday. May we all find peace, joy, and love. You are #5 of 26. Please pay it forward. Yours in peace, A Monroe teacher and resident.”
Julia was familiar with the National Random Acts of Kindness movement because she helped to make paper peace cranes at Masuk shortly before classes dismissed for the December holidays. However, Julia was “very surprised” to be the recipient of the unexpected gift card.
“It’s one of those things that you see happening to others, but never expect to happen to yourself,” Julia said. “The random act of kindness I received motivated me to continue the pattern, even if all it does is put a smile on a stranger’s face.”
Paying it forward
Julia responded by putting more money on the same gift card and leaving it at Starbucks for another unsuspecting person. She included a hand-written note that urged its reader to continue the tradition of performing random acts of kindness to remember the children and teachers in Newtown.
Like most people who are performing good deeds, Julia would prefer to remain anonymous to the recipient.
Initially inspired by Masuk’s paper cranes project, Julia said she hopes people could use these Random Acts of Kindness to come together in peace.
“I hope the town, and the country, can be inspired as well by this unification of students and teachers in a peaceful motion,” she said.
Although it was at a different coffee shop — Dunkin’ Donuts — Dawn Barbierri also was gifted with a free coffee by an unknown benefactor. When she drove up to pay for her usual medium-sized hot coffee at the drive-through window on Route 25, Barbierri was told by the cashier that the car in front of her already had paid the tab.
“They were doing a Random Act of Kindness,” Barbierri said. “So I decided to pay for the car behind me. It felt good. It was so heartwarming.”
Rebecca Ambrose, a licensed marriage and family therapy counselor in Monroe, said these acts of kindness are part of “the healing process.”
When a tragedy occurs, people lose their sense of control. “Our first initial reaction to this was to hug and hold people tight,” Ambrose said. “Our next move in the healing process is to begin the conversation around safety and how we can have that emotional connection restored.
“The Random Acts of Kindness would definitely be about putting that conversation into action,” she said.
From meals to candy
Masuk High School student Brian Morcone was the recipient of two recent good deeds. First, Brian had a meal paid for at the Monroe Diner.
A volunteer firefighter, Brian recently became certified as an EMT. A few days before Christmas he stopped by Monroe Diner in uniform with his fellow EMT workers. “We asked for the check and the waitress said it was taken care of,” Brian said. “When we asked what she meant, the waitress directed us to a table where a couple was sitting. They said they paid for our check along with theirs.”
Later that day, when Brian went to Dunkin’ Donuts, he decided it was time for him to now “pass it on.”
“I ordered my coffee and told the lady behind me to put her order on my transaction,” Brian continued. “She was shocked.”
The next day, Brian returned to his car after shopping at Stop & Shop to find a Twix candy bar taped to his windshield. A paper taped to the candy read, “26 Random Acts of Kindness in Honor of Sandy Hook. Happy Holidays — Pay it Forward.”
Monroe residents may share their experiences of being a recipient of a Random Act of Kindness by emailing [email protected].