This grocery bagger couldn’t let a woman walk away without her food.

You never really know what someone else is going through or how your actions could affect another person. Yet sometimes, it’s the kindness of strangers that makes the biggest difference in our lives, even if they don’t know it at the time.

A young woman named Maria Balboa reminded us of that recently when she came across a grandmother in need.

A Routine Grocery Shop

fruits and vegetables in a grocery store

Balboa had only been working as a bagging clerk at her local grocery store for a couple of months when a grandmother and her two grandsons came to the checkout. As Balboa explained in a Facebook post, many customers at the store used a SNAP or WIC card to help pay for their groceries.

“Last Monday, I was bagging for a lady who had two little boys with her. When checking out, she was using her SNAP card, which stated it only had $19 left on it,” Balboa explained in the post. “She was stunned and said that they needed to put all the groceries back besides a couple items.”

Balboa’s heart went out to the woman and she asked the cashier what the remaining total was. It was $137 — a lot of money for Balboa, who was putting herself through school.

“Immediately, I heard a voice inside my head saying, ‘Pay for the groceries,’” Balboa continued. “I stopped to think for a second, but then I heard again, ‘Pay for the groceries Maria!!’ I pulled out my card and told the lady I would be paying for them. She told me no at first and said she felt embarrassed, but I insisted on paying.”

A Kind Act

The woman thanked Balboa profusely, as did her grandchildren. The woman had tears in her eyes as she left the store, and Balboa felt as though she had done something good.

“[It] was quite a bit of money for me that day, but still, I knew that I would get it back on payday, and maybe she wouldn’t,” she explained. By Friday, Balboa’s next shift, her manager asked her to come to his office. She thought she was going to get in trouble, but he had good news to share.

As it turned out, the woman had filled out a survey thanking Balboa for her kind act. Her own daughter had left her sons with her overnight, changing her life. Now, she was forced to work at a low-paying job, and every penny counted. It had been a rough few weeks for the family, and when the grandmother was unable to pay for groceries, she was frustrated and embarrassed. Balboa’s kind act totally changed her day.

“My managers were very proud of me and stated that, ‘We can’t teach someone to have heart,’” Balboa continued in her post, adding they reimbursed her the money. “They also made me a goody basket with groceries to show their appreciation. I was so grateful for their kindness as well as to the lady for writing the survey.”

The Small Things Matter

Balboa wrapped her post by sharing her own learnings from the incident: a small act of kindness can go a long way.

“Hearing her words made me realize that it’s small things like paying for groceries that can help people out in ways we don’t even know,” she summed up. “With that being said: Always be kind and do a good deed for someone when you can… Good things done always come back in ways we may not even realize. Always be good to the people around you because you never know what someone else might have going on.”

Whether that means holding open a door for someone, paying for someone’s coffee or groceries, or just smiling and giving someone a compliment because you can, there are many ways to be good to those around us.

Because, as Balboa herself said, you never know what might be going on in someone else’s life.