ABILENE, Texas (KTAB) -When two strangers went into an Abilene Dollar Tree, they never imagined leaving with anything more than the merchandise they went in for.
Tammye Smith is a cafeteria monitor at Austin Elementary School. She stopped in for some supplies to reward and remind students about good behavior.
"I was going to check out. I usually mess with my phone. I put it away," says Tammye Smith, an Abilene resident.
It was in the checkout line when Smith started making small talk with the man behind her, "Where you’re from, where you live."
The man offered to pay for her purchases. It took some convincing before Smith agreed to let him pay for the purchase for school supplies.
Smith adds, "He tried to pay for my purchase and I was like, woah. What are you doing? He's like I want to get this."
The man, who she would later learn is named Joseph Norman says, "That’s the way I was born and raised. You do it and you go about your business. You don’t expect anything in return."
Norman says he just wanted to help, "Just another teacher spending her own money to buy stuff for these kids.”
“It’s a kind gesture that I will never forget," says Smith.
Smith wanted to preserve the memory so she snapped a picture with her new friend, Joseph and shared it on Facebook, “I made a post on Facebook which has since gotten 350ish likes. I’ve never gotten that many likes on a picture before.”
She wanted the community to know about his random act of kindness.
Norman adds, "Kindness is a learned experience. It’s learned and then it becomes secondary to you."
Thanks to comments, Smith learned how to find Joseph. She wanted to thank him again and show her appreciation by giving him an Austin Elementary School t-shirt.
Norman remembers, “I didn’t even tell my wife about it. She didn’t know about it until Tammye showed up at my house.”
Smith also convinced him to speak at Austin Elementary during a pep rally. Some classes were learning all about attitude and gratitude.
“I’m just pretty overwhelmed by the whole thing. I love kids. I love people in general," says Norman.
It made for a valuable lesson for students and adults to take in.
“I’m hoping that maybe one or more of these children will do something someday to pay it forward one day. You never know who you might meet," adds Smith.
Once strangers, these two have the Dollar Tree to thank for a newfound friendship.
"I loved meeting her actually. I could use some young friends," laughed Norman.
Norman has also volunteered at various soup kitchens in the community and has helped the homeless population in many ways.
Smith has invited Norman back to school for a party with the students in the near future.
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