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Nicole Phillips, Published January 18 2013

Kindness is Contagious: Miracle in shape of a doughnut

I’d like to explain how Saturday mornings work in the Phillips household.

At about 6 a.m., my almost 3-year-old son, Ben, wakes up, sneaks out of bed and goes to find the dog in her kennel. The dog then wakes up, sees my 8-year-old daughter sleeping and proceeds to jump all over her bed. My daughter, being awakened quite obnoxiously, begins to scream. This immediately acts as an alarm clock with no snooze button, forcing my husband and I to leap out of bed and find out who has been the victim of some hideous crime.

Meanwhile, my 7-year-old son is ignoring all the chaos and continues playing on the iPad like he’s been doing for the past hour.

To reset the day and bring smiles back to all members of Team Phillips, we do an early morning doughnut run to Hornbacher’s. We get some doughnuts, maybe something for dinner if I’m thinking that far in advance, and then go home and settle in.

It’s really a beautiful thing.

We’ve been doing this “Phillips Family Saturday Morning Doughnuts” ritual for so long that I don’t even feel embarrassed anymore when the employees, like Theresa, Gail, Kelsey and that lovely lady in the bakery department see me in my pajamas. Most times, my mechanic, John, is there, too, and even he has gotten used to seeing my pajama-clad crew walk through the store.

A few weeks ago, little Benjamin and I went to the grocery store for our Saturday morning doughnuts. We said hello to John (apparently he has a Saturday morning grocery store ritual, too), gave Kelsey a hug and meandered back to the bakery. When we couldn’t find the perfect vanilla-frosted-cinnamon-flavored-as-big-as-your-head-doughnut, our favorite bakery lady went to check behind the scenes. Sure enough, she came back with a winner.

I was feeling particularly sharp that morning, so I remembered to grab a bag of frozen ravioli for dinner and then headed to say hello to Gail at the checkout. She smiled, pointed to the next register and said, “Theresa will check you out today.”

Theresa rang up the doughnuts and dinner and then said, “You’re all set! Someone wanted to pay your bill today.”

I was dumbfounded.

I’m not even sure what I said, I was so shocked. All I remember is that I started to leak from my eyes and hoped like crazy it wouldn’t turn into a full-out downpour. Theresa, Gail and Kelsey all just stood there and smiled.

I begged them to tell me who had slipped them the money, but they wouldn’t budge.

As I drove home, something occurred to me for the first time. Acts of kindness aren’t necessarily about doing things for people that they cannot do for themselves. Yes, I could have paid for my groceries. Just like the other snowy morning when I woke up and found that someone had shoveled my sidewalk.

I had planned on paying for my groceries. I had planned on shoveling the sidewalk. But it made me feel incredibly special that someone cared enough about me that they would go out of their way to add a sparkle to my day.

Being part of an act of kindness feels like being part of a little miracle. I’ve heard you can’t find them in stores, but apparently, sometimes you can.

Please continue to share your stories of kindness with me at nphillips15@

hotmail.com. Or send a letter to Kindness is Contagious c/o Nicole Phillips, The Forum, 101 5th St. N., Box 2020, Fargo, ND, 58107.

Nicole Phillips is a former television anchor for Fox News in Fargo, and currently the executive director of Diva Connection Foundation. She is the mother of three kids and the wife of Bison men’s head basketball coach Saul Phillips. Her columns run every Saturday.