Katie Kanefke was checking out at her local Walmart store when she had a crisis at the cash register. The young mom did everything she could to handle the situation. But little did she know that another customer was watching – and they felt that they had to step in.
Kanefke lives in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. In 2014 she and her husband Jimmy became the parents of a little boy. As a result, they were learning how to manage their family budget which, since Kanefke was a stay-at-home mom, consisted of just one income.
To make their money go further, Kanefke was open to pursuing supermarket deals. So when a friend told the young mom that her local Walmart was willing to price-match on products, she decided to take full advantage.
Since Kanefke’s infant child was going through a lot of nappies, she figured she’d pay a visit to a nearby Walmart and purchase four large boxes of Pampers, which Kanefke knew were cheaper at another store. However, when she reached the checkout, the cashier told her they would only price-match one of the items.
No doubt deflated, Kanefke ditched three of the boxes and proceeded to check out with just one. However, the mom had no idea that her situation was being monitored by another customer, who subsequently decided to intervene.
The woman in question was Carol Flynn. The 73-year-old was visiting Walmart to buy supplies for her cat and treat herself to a new blouse. But after realizing that Kanefke had been forced to abandon three of her 148-count diaper boxes, the retiree’s Sunday evening took an unforeseen turn.
Recalling her interaction with the young mom, Flynn subsequently told WTRV that she’d said, “It looks to me like you had four boxes of Pampers and you’re only buying one. So I said, ‘Do you have children?’ And she said, ‘Yes, I have a little boy who is four months and he uses a lot of diapers.’ And I said, ‘I think you need the other three boxes, then.’”
Off her own back, Flynn decided that she’d pay it forward by purchasing the three extra boxes of diapers on Kanefka’s behalf. The items set the retiree back $120, but as Flynn put it in an interview with the Argus Leader, “You can’t take it with you.”
And this wasn’t the first time that selfless Flynn had lived by the pay-it-forward philosophy. She had committed random acts of kindness on a much smaller scale before, including buying a meal for the people in a car behind her at a drive-through. However, thanks to another Walmart customer, this time her actions went viral.
Jason Yoshino had been behind both Flynn and Kanefka in the line for the checkout. And when he realized what was happening, he decided to film the heartwarming encounter on his phone. He later posted the footage on his Facebook page, where it quickly became an online sensation.
Commenting on the incident he’d witnessed, Yoshino told the Argus Leader, “Me and my wife were stunned. You hear about those things, but you don’t see them in real life… It definitely touched a chord with me. I always try to inspire others, and I’m a huge advocate of uplifting and changing the world. I’ll never forget it, to be honest with you.”
Flynn remained completely unaware of her viral fame for around 12 hours, until she received a phone call from her local paper asking her to comment on the incident. But while she was happy to talk about what happened, Flynn later said that she hadn’t bought the diapers to win herself any recognition.
Explaining why she’d stepped in to help Kanefka that day, Flynn said, “I just think we should do things like that. That’s kind of my thinking.” She added that her faith in God also had a part to play, as well as the fact that she’d started looking at life a little differently now that she’d retired.
Flynn revealed that she was now much more likely to take notice of people’s struggles than when she was young. “My life is not moving as fast as it used to,” she explained. “I used to get in line and be impatient if I had to wait. When you get older, you slow down and take a look at what’s around us.”
But while Flynn didn’t think much of her actions, to Kanefka they meant a great deal. Not only had the extra nappies given her young family some financial respite, but the stranger’s good deed had also restored Kanefka’s faith in humanity.
Recalling her reaction to Flynn’s act of kindness, Kanefka revealed, “I couldn’t believe it. I was shocked. I kept saying thank you and God bless you… Then I walked out in the parking lot and started crying. It just hit me. It was an awesome statement of what God’s love does.”
Unsurprisingly, Kanefka wasn’t the only one to praise Flynn for her selflessness. After learning of its customer’s good deed, Walmart donated $1,500 to March of Dimes. Flynn had worked at the nonprofit for almost three decades, helping the organization in its efforts to increase the wellbeing of babies and their mothers.
Flynn told the Argus Leader, “March of Dimes will always be very dear to my heart. If you work for an organization like that, you need to be passionate about it, or it’s just a job. I became passionate.”
On top of the donation, her former colleagues at March of Dimes presented Flynn with a gift basket, while Walmart handed her a gift card worth $100. And it didn’t take long for the retiree to decide what she’d spend her voucher on. “I should buy diapers with it,” she said.
While Flynn clearly had no intention of bringing an end to her giving, it seemed that her generous spirit had rubbed off on those around her. Kanefka in particular was eager to pay her good deed forward to another deserving candidate at some point in the future. After all, she knows how much even the smallest of gestures can mean to someone in need.