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On December 23, 2020, I stopped at Safeway (north end of town) even though I was staying in the south end of town for the holidays.

The clerk rang up my $36 worth of groceries while I searched for my wallet with credit cards, ATM card, ID and cash, then remembered they were all probably in my vest at the house in Gleneden Beach.

As my dilemma became obvious, I asked the clerk if I could put the unpaid-for groceries at the Customer Service desk so I could check my car, but I was sure my lifelines were 20+ minutes away.

As I started towards the desk, the woman in line behind me said she would pay. I declined, but she insisted. I ask for contact information to repay the loan but she refused. She said to “pay it forward.” I gave my predicament the briefest of thought, then accepted.

I was about to experience a Christmas miracle.

I don’t know if she is a local or visitor, and wouldn’t know her if I saw her (we were all masked up), but I hope she sees this letter so I can again express my gratitude.

In honor of my mysterious sponsor and to pay it forward, I recently made donations to bolster the Otis fire recovery effort and to help with local food and housing assistance here in Redmond Oregon.

Unlike Blanche DuBois in A Streetcar Named Desire, I don’t usually rely on the kindness of strangers. But on that particular day, in these particularly uncivil times, it brought a smile to my face.

Thanks again Good Samaritan.

Robert Carlton,



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