When Jacques Ruffin found an old letter his mother had saved, he almost tossed it. But he thought he better take a look.
"The letter touched my heart. Reading the letter brought me to near tears and I wondered how life would've turned out if it wasn't for the kindness of James W. Jones," Ruffin tells MNN.
Ruffin shared the note on Reddit. The touching letter struck a chord with Redditors around the world.
Music store owner James Jones wrote to Jacques' mother in 2009, forgiving the rent due on her son's trumpet.
"You do not have to pay me any more for the trumpet. It is yours to play," Jones wrote. "I have been through bad times like you. But remember. Tough times never last, Tough people do."
The internet can be a tough place, but not in this case.
Posters were touched by the store owner's kind note and immediately came up with suggestions to respond in kind. Some people thought they should pay it forward, sending instruments to band kids in need.
But the majority suggested paying it backward to the store owner. People offered to send anonymous donations so he could buy more instruments to help more kids.
"Small music stores are often in pretty rough shape these days. The internet has killed, or is killing, all but the most hardy/stubborn local stores ... I'd be surprised if this guy is making a killing running his music store," wrote SwellJoe. "Seems like chipping in to pay for a trumpet or two for the store owner to give away isn't such a terrible idea for paying it forward and helping out a small business owner who was kind to a kid and a struggling mom (and this probably isn't an isolated incident)."
And it turns out that really is the case, Redditor vorpib found out.
Doughnuts and donations
When he read the post, he realized he lived only minutes away from Allegro Music Center in Casselberry, a suburb of Orlando. So he decided to drop by when the store opened, armed with a dozen doughnuts.
In talking with an overwhelmed Jones, vorpib discovered that this wasn't the first time the store owner had assisted someone in need.
"He said he's been doing this for years, helping out kids who haven't been able to make the payments," vorpib tells MNN. "It's such a cool thing. He was so humble. I don't think he's crazy about all the attention."
Hoping to continue to help other struggling young musicians just like Jones did, Ruffin started a GoFundMe to benefit music students in need.
And because the music store may have seen better days, Redditors hope that some kindness (and donations) may help brighten Jones' day.
"I would like to push the idea that we donate something to him, and hopefully this will go viral so that his customer base also grows after all this has died down," suggested gjs628.
"The whole point of this is to say, 'That small kindness that you did — completely out of the blue for a struggling mother and her son — hasn't gone unnoticed, and we would like to thank you for not just the kindness but being the person you are, who expected nothing in return.' He didn't do this with the expectation of recognition or gain, he did this out of the kindness of his own heart."