A young mother touched by a stranger’s compassion is hoping it inspires others to pay it forward.
With a crying baby in tow, Jamie-Lynne Knighten reached into her purse to pay for groceries that amounted to more than $200 at Trader Joe’s in Oceanside, CA. She realized she’d left her debit card at home, and her credit card was frozen because of an anti-fraud lock. Matthew Jackson, a 28-year-old fitness trainer waited patiently behind Knighten and watched as her phone died when she tried to call the bank.
Before Knighten even reached her phone, Jackson came to the rescue when he insisted on covering the cost. Little did she know, this random act of kindness would be one of the last things Jackson would do in his lifetime.
Jackson stepped to the front of the line and offered to pay for her haul. “It just felt like this … great big bear hug,” Knighten says. After refusing Jackson’s offer, Knighten eventually took him up on it, on the condition that she pay it forward when she had the chance.
A little more than a week later, Knighten took initiative and called Jackson’s boss at LA fitness to express how kind he had been to her and potentially bring him a gift. When his boss began crying, it was clear that something was wrong.
Less than 24 hours after Jackson paid for Knighten‘s bill, he was killed in a car crash.
Angela Lavinder, the gym manager, told Knighten that Jackson had just been killed in a car accident. And the crash had occurred less than twenty-four hours since he had purchased the groceries for the busy mother.
“She said it was Matt and my heart just dropped because he had just passed away,” Knighten told NBC7. “It broke my heart because – what a beautiful person.”
Knighten posted to Facebook:
“I still cannot believe it. I thought for sure I would get the chance to see him again, give him a hug, and thank him at least once more in person. Now I won’t get that chance, but more importantly, no one else will get the chance to meet him. And that breaks my heart.”
Knighten wanted “Jackson’s Legacy” to live on, and to help encourage others to pay it forward, she’s created a Facebook and Twitter account in his honor. And it seems to be working; as Matthew’s sister, brother-in-law, and their four young kids were on their way to Matthew’s memorial, they stopped to get something to eat and as they tried to pay, they were told that it had already been paid for.
Knighten revealed that she’s already heard many amazing stories of people paying it forward in Matthew’s name.
“Matthew’s best friend told me she was helping the women in front of her at the grocery store bag her groceries and went to pay for them, too, in Matthew’s honor, but the clerk said, ‘An angel paid for these groceries.’ It turned out the man behind her read about Matthew’s story and wanted to pay it forward. She then bursted out in tears and told him that Matthew was her best friend.”