One widowed father wasn’t expecting this kind of outreach.

Sometimes it’s during your darkest moments that unexpected help comes your way. One widowed man and a father of two learned that lesson one day when a total stranger shared his story and changed his life.

The Immense Tragedy One Family Suffered

mom and dad hugging their 2 kids
Photo by Vlada Karpovich

Mark Sable was facing one of the most difficult periods of his life in 2015. Doctors had discovered a 14-pound tumor on his 28-year-old wife, Belinda, leading to a Stage 4 ovarian cancer diagnosis. She was gone within months.

That left Sable to care for his four and seven-year-old kids by himself, but as an overnight custodian, his resources were limited. The man did what he could, but there were nights the family slept in the car. He didn’t know what he was going to do.

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“It’s been real hard to make sure food’s on the table and just everyday things with the kids,” he told Humankind.

One day, while a woman named Holly Lafferty was at the clinic Sable took his children to, she overheard his story and decided to do something about it. So she went to Facebook and asked for help.

“Do you ever witness a moment that you can’t shake?” she wrote. “I had one of those today and would love to make a difference… As most of you know, [my son] Roman goes for occupational therapy every week. From week to week, I’ve seen many of the same faces over the years. While I don’t know their personal stories, I know that they are doing all they can for their children with different needs,” she continued.

“Today, as I was in the waiting area, I learned that a family lost their mom from cancer over the weekend. Their kids are 4 and 7 and the thought of any child losing their parent crushes me. Add in the special needs factor and their reality is even more difficult… I reached out to the therapist by saying I wanted to do something nice for them to brighten their day… Turns out they need a lot more than that.”

How a Community Came Together to Help

multiple people putting their palms on one another
Photo by Hannah Busing on Unsplash

As Lafferty continued her post, she highlighted everything the family needed, from soaps and shampoo to toothbrushes and other toiletries. She also listed recreational and art supplies, clothes, and gift cards knowing many people might feel uncomfortable giving cash. Plus, since she didn’t know the family personally, she couldn’t set up a crowd-sourcing page.

To the mom’s surprise, people delivered right away.

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“It blows my mind. By the time I got home that day, I already had donations piling on my doorstep that just kept coming,” she told Humankind.

By the time she had collected all of the generous donations, there was enough to fill one of the rooms at the clinic. “Kindness is everywhere. Everybody has a village, you just don’t know it,” Lafferty added.

How One Stranger Proved Brightness Can Be Found in the Dark

lamp shining in the dark
Photo by Aleksey Nosov

What this family experienced — losing a wife and mother at such a young age — is heartbreaking. And while nothing will take away that pain or replace that loss, knowing that others are out there and looking out for them has helped this family get through their day.

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It’s a nice reminder that sometimes small actions can have big consequences. Lafferty’s decision to take action upon hearing the Sables’ story inspires us to take action the next time we hear about someone else going through a hard time in life.

For now, small things like purchasing extra food to give to the food bank during our weekly grocery trip, offering a couple of dollars to charity the next time a checkout clerk asks if we’d like to donate, or dropping off old clothes and toys at a shelter are all things we can do in our days to make a big difference in someone else’s life.


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