One stranger’s book surprise set off a positive chain reaction that touched thousands.

It was a trip that Ashley Jost has made countless times before. However this time, her trip to Target had a detour. It would end up taking her on a crazy adventure, and she’d bring thousands along with her for the ride.

The Life-Changing Letter Found Inside a Book

As per the Daily Mail, on this day, she went to Target’s book section to pick up something for a reading challenge among her friends. The book she bought was Girl, Stop Apologizing: A Shame-Free Plan for Embracing and Achieving Your Goals by Rachel Hollis.

Yet it wasn’t the book’s story but another crazy twist that made its mark. That’s because one day when she put down the book to check on her barking dog, something fell out.

It was a $5 bill and a pink neon Post-It note. It read: “To the person who buys this book: I am having a tough day. I thought maybe I could brighten someone else’s with this little surprise,” adding, “Practice some self-care today. Remember that you are loved, you are amazing, you are strong.” It was signed ‘Lisa.’

She couldn’t believe her eyes. She used it as motivation to pay it forward, and what followed was a feel-good frenzy.

How Paying It Forward Went Viral

Jost decided to take a picture of the bill and letter and post it on Twitter. You can say that it was on target. It had more than 3,000 likes and was picked up by news outlets worldwide. Even Girl, Stop Apologizing author Rachel Hollis told her followers to pay it forward.

That success sparked an idea in Jost to start her own $5 kindness campaign. Her idea was simple, and its impact huge. “We live in a college town where there are so many people living paycheck to paycheck, so I decided I wanted to do one random act of kindness every day this week, each worth $5,” she explained.

She also placed one in a random book in the school library, with a familiar signature. ‘”Remember that you are loved, you are amazing, you are strong.'”

‘Lisa’ the Mystery Woman Reached Out

Jost says that her kindness initiative has even rubbed off close to home. “My dad told me this morning he bought the groceries of the person behind him,” she said.

Another woman tweeted that she was inspired to commit her own act of kindness in order to honor her 19-year-old daughter, who died in a car accident a few months ago.

“I cried when I read that comment,” said Jost.

In a surprise twist, ‘Lisa’ reached out to Jost in a letter after seeing the media frenzy. “She said it made her cry in a good way,” Jost said to CNN. Also, Lisa said that she’d wanted “to create something positive – she never really expected this to happen the way it has.”

However, Lisa left no return address, so her true identity might always be a mystery. Perhaps all the better so her actions shine bright.

How One Stranger Proved the Power of Small Acts of Kindness

There’s no question that this ‘connected’ age has in many ways pulled us apart. With social media addiction, we’re glued to our phones, sending mindless messages or just aren’t present with each other when we are together.

To me, all that means is that we have to work a bit more to connect. We have to put a bit more care into our contacts. And sometimes, like Lisa, we have to dare to do something different.

Don’t underestimate the huge impact of a small gesture. A ripple in the water can cause an ocean of awesome in the world.