Strangers pay for Maryville woman’s groceries

Kristi Cooper

MARYVILLE (WATE) – A Maryville woman’s “thank you” video posted to Facebook for a group of teenagers’ random act of kindness is going viral.

Trinity Christian Academy teacher Kristi Cooper had been wandering through the aisles of the Walmart in Maryville with her 5-year-old daughter Sunday night, picking up things here and there. When it came time to check out, Cooper says there were a few teenagers standing close to the register.

“I noticed them, that they were around. They were looking nice and friendly and I wasn’t worried about it. And when my bill came up, this young man steps in and slides his card and I said, ‘Uh, okay?’ And he said, ‘We got this for you ma’am,'” explained Cooper.

There was a big pause and then one of the boys simply said, “God bless you.”

“My stomach was in my heart and my heart was in my stomach. For a second I thought, ‘Is this a trick?’ People are nice but I couldn’t hardly believe it,” added Cooper.

She says that she gave them all a big hug,

“It seemed like everything they had, they were willing to give it.”

The exchange only lasted a few minutes and that kind generosity made a lasting impression. Right after, Cooper posted a Facebook Live video.

She now says it’s a lesson she’ll carry over into her classroom at Trinity Christian Academy.

“I think it’s so encouraging. You never know what somebody’s day has been like and to be able to inspire them in that way and show God’s love.”

It was a surprise in a surprising classroom.

“Thank you more than you would ever ever know,” said Cooper.

Maryville teenagers responsible for act of kindness share what inspired them

In the Fairview United Methodist Church Youth Ministry, there is a phrase called “agape attack.” It’s what they’re calling the random act of kindness Christi Cooper shared on Facebook.

“We brought $20, we loaded up on the church bus and we all went to Walmart. At that point we all knew what we were doing. We were going to pay for people’s groceries. Whoever God led us to we were going to pay for.” said Ryan Kirst, a Youth Ministry member.

The group paid for at least a thousand dollars worth of groceries for strangers with one message: You are loved.

“An Agape Attack is really just anything you can do to show God’s love to someone else,” said Ryan Byrd, a youth ministry member.

The man with the idea, Roger Murphy, is the group’s pastor. He says he wanted the students to get out of their comfort zones.

“Some of our kids last night were saying, ‘My heart is pounding.’ They had this level of excitement before they went. Then the excitement changed to some other kind of joy after they experienced stepping out of their comfort zone.” said Murphy.

Murphy says he wants to share this story because he wants anyone who might feel alone to know, they are loved. He says this is a challenge for anyone wanting to spread love. An Agape Attack doesn’t have to be with money. It can be as simple as a hug.

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