Jocelyn Rugante, 41, on Tuesday went to buy late lunch for her children and was caught by surprise when she was told that the passenger in the car ahead of them already paid for their $32.35 meal.

She didn't know the person.

All she remembers is that there was a "black car" in front of them in the Jollibee drive-thru lane. 

The receipt showed it was paid at 1:53 p.m.

"We were in shock," Rugante said, recalling the moment the Jollibee cashier told her that her bill's been paid for. "It's unexpected, it's overwhelming, honestly."

At that moment, it was as if the world stopped, she said, and all that she and her sister-in-law could think about was to search for the car that just gave them an unexpected gift.

They almost left the drive-thru without getting all what they ordered, to try to follow the car but the car was already out of sight when they realized what just happened.

Rugante, a mother of two, said she couldn't even remember whether the cashier told her it was a male or female passenger who paid their bill.

She's so moved by the random act of kindness that she plans to pay it forward, and to keep on trying to find the person.

"Honestly, this is the first time I received something from a stranger," the Barrigada resident said.

Sharing kindness 

Her faith in humanity got stronger, she said, and she's more inspired to teach her two daughters about kindness.

"Despite all the struggles, all the challenges, there are still people out there who are willing to share their blessings," she said.

Shortly after the unexpected turn of events, Rugante shared on social media the random act of kindness she received, along with the photo of the food items they ordered and the receipt.

The social media post, she said, was also a long shot to try to find the kind stranger.

"I read some stories like that, that somebody pays for somebody's meal. But it never crossed my mind that it would happen to me," Rugante said.

Within minutes, her post drew positive comments, ranging from "That's wonderful" to "Love to hear stories like this " and "There's angels amongst us."

Others shared similar experiences, and suggested that she could always pay the kindness forward. Rugante said she's thankful and is still overwhelmed.

Giving circle 

It was her sister-in-law who was driving the car at the Jollibee drive-thru that day.

While in the car, their attention was on Ruganda's 5-year-old daughter Alejandra Amour, who was sharing what she learned during her online class that day.

Which is why they weren't paying much attention to the black car in front of them.

The event also brought her back to her random gifting of new face masks to people she meets, either at the bank or at the store, and wonders whether they're all connected. 

Rugante owns JoMaRu Designs, a small business focused on crafting, customization and party favors. During the pandemic, she started sewing face masks, many of which she has given away to people free of charge.

Just in case that kind stranger reads her story, she said, this is what she wants to say:

"Thank you for showing me that kindness really still exists in this world and your generosity impacted me. It has a beautiful impact on me. Now I have more reason to teach my kids about kindness and generosity." 

Haidee Eugenio Gilbert

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