Three strangers come together for 12-year-old’s birthday after present lost in parking lot

Published: Sep. 20, 2021 at 5:46 PM CDT
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GRAND FORKS, N.D. (Valley News Live) - A father’s misfortune in one Grand Forks parking lot over the weekend turned into three strangers coming together for his 12-year-old son’s birthday in a different parking lot.

“Acts of kindness can change the world!” Troy Erickson said.

When Jake Bartlette couldn’t sleep Friday night he found himself aimlessly scrolling through Facebook.

“I stumbled across the post and was like, ‘Wow. Poor kid,’” Bartlette said.

The post he saw was Troy Erickson’s, who took to social media after he dropped and lost an envelope with $100 inside. The money was a gift Erickson’s son Ryker received at his 12th birthday party at Pizza Ranch Friday evening. Erickson says he took to Facebook in hopes a Good Samaritan found it and would be able to give it back.

Bartlette says the post got him thinking.

“I was like, ‘Let’s get together and get some donations for the little guys and make his birthday come true for him!’” Bartlette said.

Bartlette says several people flooded his messages wanting to help out too, but, without a Venmo account, Bartlette says he was only able to take physical donations from two other men, which came out to $130.

“We met and we sat and talked for a little while and the kid’s smile was very, very priceless. Pretty heartwarming,” Bartlette said.

“Just joy. I mean, (Ryker) was amazed! How much better of a place would this world be? I mean, it sounds cliché but it’s true. Acts of kindness like that are utterly transformative,” Erickson said.

Erickson says in such a dark time, the swift and kind actions by complete strangers has given him hope for the future both in the community and for his son. He added he challenges others to pay it forward, as you never know who you may inspire.

“Follow that example. I’m going to do it. I’m going to try to be more like Jake. I’m gonna try to do those acts of kindness and show people the love,” Erickson said.

Erickson says Ryker plans to use his birthday money to go on his first ever trip to Lego Land at the Mall of America, and also plans to pay it forward to someone else in the community some time soon.

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