Stranger’s kindness encourages young brothers to pay it forward

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MIDDLEVILLE, Mich. -- Help from a complete stranger at a grocery store inspired two young brothers in West Michigan to pay it forward.

Fourth and fifth graders Joe and Ben Wallington wanted to find a way to help others after someone chipped in $40 towards their family's grocery bill. That led to an idea that would help a lot more than just one person.

It all started Wednesday night at a Walmart in Hastings.

"We got in line and there was this gentleman standing in front of us," said Randy Carlson, the boys' stepfather. "We got up to the cashier and she told us the man left us $40 to go towards our groceries. I told the boys we would  have to find someone to pay it forward to.”

Joe and Ben jumped at the opportunity.

"You should do something good for them because it is nice to do something for them," said Ben Wallington, 11.

They decided to help their fellow classmates at Page Elementary, particularly those who could not afford a hot lunch.

"If you are in debt at the school - like some people are - you only get a plain peanut butter and jelly sandwich with some milk," explained 10-year-old Joe Wallington.

Jordan Carlson, the boy's mother, fronted $20, but says the idea came from her sons.

"It is amazing to know that I have two boys that are worried about others," Jordan said.

Wednesday night was not the first time the family experienced the help of others. Ben was diagnosed with epilepsy in 2015 and a GoFundMe page helped raise the $1,000 needed for a special piece of equipment to monitor his seizures during the night.

Now, the boys say they like giving more than receiving.

"When you are giving a gift, you are actually seeing the enjoyment in the person's face that you are giving it to," said Joe.

And this is just the beginning for the two brothers.

"I am thinking about going on [paying it forward] to keep helping people out," Joe continued.

They hope their classmates do the same.

"I hope that they will continue the chain and pay it forward" said Ben.

The boys made it very clear that paying it forward does not have to be with money; they are also helping a neighbor who is doing some work on his house.

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