FORT SMITH, Okla. — A grieving stranger's act of kindness touched the heart of a young Oklahoma mother, and she turned to social media to share her story with the world.
Alyssa Hacker and her son, Owen, were wandering the aisles of an Arkansas Target earlier this week. Owen was trying to decide between three toy dinosaurs he'd pulled into the cart when he suddenly called out to an older man next to them.
"(The man) turned around and said, 'hey sweet boy,' Hacker wrote in a Facebook post. "He proceeded to play dinosaurs with Owen."
Hacker admitted she usually gets nervous about strangers playing so closely with her baby, but her anxiety quickly dissipated as she watched the two interact.
"That's not like me," Hacker told Today. "I'm always in mommy protective mode, but I know this was a God thing that happened."
What happened next left her both touched and heartbroken.
"The man got his wallet out and pulled a $20 out, he put it in Owens (sic) pocket on his shirt and said, 'I just lost my 2-year-old grandson last week. You take this money and buy this boy all three dinosaurs,'" she wrote.
The man rubbed Owen on the back, wiped tears from his eyes and walked away, Hacker said.
Hacker snapped a photo with Owen and the three dinosaurs and posted her story to Facebook on Saturday. As of Tuesday night, the post had more than 345,000 likes and nearly 130,000 shares.
"In moments like this you have to trust your gut instinct about people," wrote one commenter. "So glad you did!"
"What a beautiful testament to the good that is still around us," wrote another. "Thank you for sharing."
Hacker told Today she used that $20 exactly as she was instructed to — all three dinosaurs came home with Owen that day, a reminder of the kindness of a man in the midst of unimaginable pain.
"These three stuffed dinosaurs have more meaning than I ever thought a stuffed animal from Target could have. We will hold on to these memories forever."