Standing in the northeast corner of the Walmart Supercenter parking lot in Seymour on New Year’s Eve, a local family brightened people’s day one gift card at a time.
Chris Jones said he frequently visits the Premier Energy CountryMark fuel station on Community Drive on the city’s west side and recently asked the manager about helping him with a good deed he wanted to do with his family.
“She got me fixed up with 150 gift cards with small coffees on them, and I bought them and paid for them,” Jones said.
On the morning of Dec. 31, he and his wife, Lindsey, and their children, Lainey, 9, and Lathen, 11, stood near one of the entrances in the Walmart parking lot and handed the gift cards to people who wanted one as they drove by.
Lainey held a sign that read “Not homeless. Don’t want money. Have a cup of coffee on us. Happy Holidays. Jones family.”
“I was just thinking about somebody needed to do something to give back instead of people always standing there with their hand out,” Chris said of people often standing in that area holding signs asking for help.
Most people were friendly and took the Joneses up on their offer.
“There were a couple people that were trying to give us money to go get more of them (gift cards). There were people offering to help give a little bit of money toward what we spent out,” Chris said. “I said, ‘No, we don’t want that. We’re not here to collect money. We’re here to pass out (gift cards). Go have a small coffee on us. We don’t want your money.’”
Chris said it took about an hour and 45 minutes to pass out all of the gift cards.
“I hope it brightened somebody’s day. I really do,” he said. “I really do hope it made somebody smile and made (people realize) the world is not all bad.”
He was happy his family was on board with his idea. Their good deed also fell on Lathen’s birthday.
“I’m always trying to figure out different things to do to give back a little bit,” Chris said. “I ran it by my wife and she said, ‘Yeah,’ and I said something to the kids about it and they said, ‘Yeah, let’s do it.’ I’m very family-oriented. I try not to do anything without my family. I knew the kids would enjoy it, and so we did it, and we had a good time and it was nice.”
Even after all of the gift cards had been handed out, the family did one more good thing.
“There was one guy that reached out to me that is wheelchair bound and he wanted to go up and get (a gift card), but he didn’t have any way to get there, so once we got done passing them out, we went and bought him lunch and gave it to him,” Chris said.
The family has done other things to give back in the past. Chris said it’s good for the kids.
“I just want them to see that it’s nice to give back to your community, it’s nice to brighten somebody’s day, make somebody happy and feel thankful, be thankful they were in that right place at the right time,” he said. “Yes, it’s a small cup of coffee. It ain’t much, but anymore, any little bit helps.”
No matter the amount of money or time spent, the Jones family hopes others think of ways to give back when they can.
“Just do something good for somebody … just try to help one another out,” Chris said. “(Handing out gift cards) was just something to be nice and try to start their new year out right with a good smile.”