a happy ending

We’re not quite into update season yet (that starts December 1), but I thought this letter was a good way to send us off into the Thanksgiving holiday.

This is from a reader who had commented on a post earlier this month about kindness at work, about her sister and nephew who both had Covid. Her sister, a single mom whose ex is behind on child support, couldn’t work while quarantining and wasn’t being paid. The reader had been assisting with her bills and groceries but had nothing left to keep helping with, and a kind coworker had offered some help.

Several other readers got in touch with me to ask they could help and sent along money. Here’s the letter I received on Monday.

Hello AAM community! This is an update to my post on “Kindness at Work” regarding my sister and nephew who both tested positive for COVID. My sister had been unable to work for a month due to quarantine, was struggling to pay bills, get necessities and I was out of funds to help her. A coworker had overheard part of our conversation and gave me a check for her, even though she had a daughter who had been sick and required several medical procedures.

First, I would like to say THANK YOU to all of those who offered my sister assistance. It was truly a blessing for them. With the assistance of the commenters and some additional resources, she was able to pay all of her bills, purchase groceries, get her medicine, get her heater fixed and has a small bit leftover in case anything comes up before she gets paid. She actually returns to work today and her manager is offering her as many hours as she feels up to through the holidays.

I took the morning off after the post and made some calls on her behalf. I called the nutrition department of the school district to inquire about any possible resources, as they had been giving out food boxes for student families during the summer. They have a program to deliver food boxes to student families who are in isolation/quarantine because of COVID. It is a mix of nonperishables and fresh vegetables. They call to let you know they are on the way, put the box on your porch and honk the horn. They were able to order some things online and have them delivered. They will get another box Tuesday or Wednesday. His high school is currently 100% virtual due to a COVID outbreak among the band (100 plus students tested positive), so he may or may not go back next week. He had been home for almost three weeks when that outbreak happened.

I also found out that although her employer does not participate in FFCRA, they have an emergency fund you can apply for. So I had my nephew take photos of her bills and email them to me. Then I put her on speakerphone (at home, not in the office!) and asked her the questions on the online application and typed in the answers. She was approved and they deposited the money into her account.

Using social media, I made contact with my nephew’s paternal grandmother. She said she doesn’t speak to her son much for various reasons and she was quite upset he wasn’t paying his child support. I explained the situation and she wired money to my sister. I gave her my nephew’s phone number (with his and my sister’s permission) and they are talking, texting and video calling each other now.

Things are definitely looking better for them. I don’t think I can sufficiently express my sincere appreciation for the help provided. My sister and nephew are extremely grateful and moved by the compassion that this community showed them. You are awesome people! I’m so glad that I found this site years ago when I wanted to know if I needed to buy my coworker a gift for her third wedding since I had bought gifts for the first two!

Alison- thank you so much for this site! This is not the first time your people have helped other commenters in need and I’m sure it won’t be the last. In case I haven’t said it enough, let me say it again- this is an amazing group of people!

Stay safe AAM community!

Me again. For more ways to help others, please consider donating (food or money) to your local food pantry or using any of the ideas here!

{ 76 comments… read them below }

  1. PJ*

    This brought tears to my eyes. On a day I needed a reminder that people can be truly wonderful to each other.

    1. Malarkey01*

      This is the third time I’ve cried today- it’s like third trimester pregnancy hormones all over again. I think it’s a great reminder that so many of us need just a little hope and good news right now!

      (Thank god, we don’t still have ATT long distance commercials or I’d need to panic buy Kleenex at this point)

  2. Rayray*

    I love this! It’s so nice to see people coming together to help someone else. I especially love that the kid and his grandma are connecting and speaking to each other.

    1. stiveee*

      The part about the grandma is where I nearly lost it. What a beautiful thing to come out of all of this.

      1. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

        As someone whose entire paternal side didn’t contribute a cent to her upbringing… THE ONIONS!!!!

    2. Gaia*

      That really got to me. My father and his parents are horrible people that I’ll never willingly interact with…but I always wondered if there were decent people mixed in there somewhere that I missed out on knowing. I’m glad to see this nephew can have contact with his paternal grandmother.

  3. Ally McBeal*

    I am thankful for this post — although the onion-chopping for Thanksgiving wasn’t supposed to start until tomorrow! OP, I’m so glad you, your sister, and your nephew have turned a corner on an incredibly difficult year/period of life.

  4. KuklaRed*

    I’m not crying – you’re crying! OK, I’m crying. People can do amazing things. OP, I am so glad things are looking up for your sister and your nephew. May this good news continue into the future.

  5. EPLawyer*

    This site has some of the best commentariat.

    I am so glad things are looking up. 2020 sucks but there is always Hope.

  6. Caroline Bowman*

    This one originally passed me by, but wow! Commenters who were able to help, you are amazing and OP, your sister is truly blessed to have you to go to bat for her at a time when she must have literally felt like she was falling apart at the very seams.

    I hope that the Karma Fairy is watching, because you deserve only wonderful things in your future!

  7. Loosey Goosey*

    This is so, so lovely, thank you for the wonderful update, OP! Also, I laughed at the line about a gift for the coworker’s third wedding, and now I am off to search the site for that letter…

  8. Totally Minnie*

    This is an amazing story and I think OP should let us know who she wants to play her in the Hallmark movie adaptation.

    1. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

      And who should play the hunky, single nutrition services driver who just happens to bump into her on her sister’s porch while they are both there to help…

  9. OhBehave*

    Amazing lead into Thanksgiving! Simply beautiful to see strangers coming together for good.
    Our church has a big community presence. It was never more important to have than in 2020. We have financially helped 300 families like OP’s sister. Our food pantry never closed. If only people were aware of all the possible ways to get help in their communities

      1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

        Thanks for the reminder – I’d been meaning to make another food pantry donation. To add on, I’ve heard from many food pantries that they can do more with cash donations than food donations, since they often get better wholesale deals than you get at the grocery store and it lets them get the types of food they need when they need it. So if you’re deciding whether to buy $10 of canned goods to donate or to just donate $10, the latter will often have a bigger impact. (Which isn’t to say that donating food is bad, and it certainly is good for things like getting kids involved in a tangible way.)

    1. Elfie*

      I’m in the UK, and I got food deliveries pre-Covid, but I was heartened to see that my supermarket is now offering (in conjunction with the Trussell Trust, a national food bank charity) food boxes for food banks. They’re only £10 each, and you buy them in the same way as you buy other food boxes that this supermarket offers (Morrisons).

      1. pancakes*

        The delivery service I most often use (Fresh Direct, in NYC) does this too. It’s great from my end, a very easy way to contribute food to people who need it whenever I buy food for myself.

  10. Ghostwriting is Real Writing*

    I missed the original topic on nice things that happened at work (Nov 3 was very distracting). Just read all of the comments. What a great way to start the Thanksgiving holiday weekend when so many of us are missing family.

      1. BubbleTea*

        Nov 3 was a bit of a day for me in two ways, one of them the obvious and another more positive personal one. It’s not a day I’ll forget!

    1. Uranus Wars*

      Me too – I was working the election polls for the first time this year and didn’t get to log on! I was wondering how I missed it on the first go round.

  11. Aphrodite*

    Helen, I am so touched by this and truly glad that your sister got so much help. But I can’t stop thinking about your generous co-worker who gave the $100 she could ill afford to give. I’d like to reimburse that co-worker for her generosity. Would you be willing to have Alison give me your email address so I can send you a check to give to that co-worker?

    1. Aphrodite*

      I hope I hear. I haven’t yet.

      The co-worker’s unusually generous offer hit me particularly hard so if can I would like to help.

      1. Helen J*

        Hi Aphrodite,
        Sorry it took so long to respond. I left the office early on Wednesday and have not read AAM since before I left for the day. I’m planning on repaying her after the first of the year, but if you send her something since she was so generous and kind, I’m fine with Alison sharing my email address with you so we can work something out. I wanted to repay her before the holidays, but I used most of my emergency money for my sister and it’s taking some time to rebuild that.


  12. Re'lar Fela*

    Oh. Oh my. I think my roof is leaking. Badly. There’s suddenly water all over my face.

    Seriously, thank you (to the entire AAM community) for this. I needed it today <3

  13. EBennett*

    So many things to love about this update.
    It is a reminder that there are a lot of resources out there if you can access them. When we are sick, exhausted, depressed it is too overwhelming to do anything. Kudos to the OP to reaching out in every direction to help her sister.
    I often think of the classic Bill Withers song “Lean on Me”
    ” . . . For no one can fill those of your needs
    That you won’t let show
    You just call on me brother, when you need a hand
    We all need somebody to lean on
    I just might have a problem that you’ll understand
    We all need somebody to lean on.”
    I hope everyone finds someone to lean on in these challenging times.

  14. Foila*

    In addition to the many other wonderful, generous things happening in this story, OP, can I commend you on your effort and work here? Seriously, you have really gone to bat for your sister and her family, and that energy doesn’t come free. What a gift.

  15. I'm just here for the cats*

    This touched my heart so much! Thank you to the kindness of everyone. This shows that although the world can seem like a dark place, there is light and warmth.
    Hugs to the OP and her family. I’m so glad you were able to find resources for them.

  16. Uranus Wars*

    This is just the best outcome all around. Your sister is so lucky to have you as a resource, and you are an amazing person for doing all of this – I know some siblings that would not have – or if they were willing may not know all these resources exist! I know I did not.

    When I got to the part about the maternal grandmother I started sobbing; thank you so much for sharing it all and for being such a wonderful human!

    1. Hazel*

      “Your sister is so lucky to have you as a resource, and you are an amazing person for doing all of this…”

      I agree! This was my first thought when I finished reading the update. I am so happy to read about people like you, OP, and Alison and the AAM commentariat.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Another key component here is that Sis LET OP help. We don’t always see others accepting offers of help. And that is hard on those of us who have to watch things unravel.

      To those sitting on the fence, if a trustworthy person offers to meaningful help you, please, just say yes. You can pay it back or pay it forward later, don’t think about that now. Just use the help to get yourself to a better spot. If you need help on how to frame this consider this: The person helping you MAY be trying to pay forward help they received in the past. You might be doing something for them and never even realize.

  17. AnonEMoose*

    I’m so glad to see this! A great way to send us off into Thanksgiving weekend, indeed. I have a friend who runs a community center that includes a food shelf. He’s told me that something they always appreciate getting donated is spices. So the other day, working with another friend who wanted to chip in, I placed an order with Penzey’s Spices and am having them shipped right to the food shelf. I chose multiple small containers of things so they can be distributed more easily, and tried to pick a range of stuff like some basic herbs, and some things like cinnamon, chili powder, and so on. So that’s one idea if you’re looking for things to donate.

    1. Totally Minnie*

      That is such an excellent tip! I’ll make sure to include similar things in future donations.

  18. Momma Bear*

    Absolutely. Pre-covid I volunteered at a choice food pantry and spices were always popular. Thank you for thinking of spices.

    If people are going through clothes while stuck home, I Support the Girls and/or your local homeless shelter might be happy to take good condition or new bras and new underwear.

  19. Frenchie too*

    So glad you are such a wonderful sister!!!
    May you and your family have a beautiful holiday season, and a happy and prosperous 2021!

  20. Mimmy*

    Okay, who left the pile of chopped onions on my doorstep….?

    Wonderful, wonderful update!! I know there is still kindness in this world; it’s hard to find sometimes but when you do find it, it brightens your day!

  21. WoodswomanWrites*

    I missed the original post, and I so moved by this story of kindness all around–from the OP, her co-worker, the grandmother, the incredible generosity of commenters here, and of course Alison for creating such a wonderful virtual community. All the best to you and your family, OP!

  22. Bookworm*

    Thank you so much for the update, LW. Glad things are looking better for your sister and nephew. :)

  23. Observer*

    OP, I want to say that YOU are awesome!

    You are a great sister. The way you went about getting your sister help is inspiring.

  24. Elizabeth West*

    We’ve had a very shitty week in this household, so it’s good to hear something happy.

  25. Maxie*

    OP thank you for writing back to Alison with this news. This speaks to a wonderful shared value system: those of who have more, or have more right now, should share with those of us who have less. OP you and I could be great friends. I am also the person who would find resources and help the person access them.

    1. Helen J*

      Thank you Maxie! I had to try to do something and calling and asking was all I could think to do!

  26. Storie*

    I love this update so much. I’m not surprised people here offered to help. It’s always been a great group. OP, you’re a great sibling, way to be there for them.

  27. Oui oui*

    This is absolutely lovely!
    P.S. How many other weddings has your co-worker had since you first wrote to AAM?

  28. 3DogNight*

    I am completely in tears, and blown away by the kindness here! This is a great update, and an amazing community! <3

  29. BetsCounts*

    Gosh, it’s so darn DUSTY in my office. Must be because I haven’t been cleaned in here since Wednesday. I’m sure that’s why my eyes are so watery.

  30. The New Normal*

    I’m sorry to have missed the first post, but LW, I hope you see this. Please reach out to your nephew’s school counselor. The district office was a good thought, but if you let his specific site know through his counselor, they can connect you with other resources. Each of the high schools in the district I work for have resource centers specifically for those who in need. Whenever I encounter a student who is struggling, I make sure to refer over. It’s a reality for a lot of kids, and most people don’t realize how many are affected, but when students turn 18 before graduating, some are kicked out of the house and left homeless. They bounce from friend to friend, playing it off, until someone makes a stray comment and starts connecting the dots. We have programs in place to help those dealing with food or housing insecurity and we can do it in a way that retains their privacy.

    1. Helen J*

      I have actually spoken to his counselor at the school! She is/will be checking with him through the remainder of the year. He’s a senior and he’s doing pretty well with virtual learning, except for math, so if we can get him a virtual tutor, we’re hoping to he’ll graduate.

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