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Hopewell Christian Academy students pay grocery bills for random J&J customers

POSTED: April 23, 2009 11:34 p.m.

Random acts of Christian kindness

Watch the reaction of customers and students as Hopewell Christian Academy pays random grocery bills at J&J Foods.

SARA GUEVARA/The Times

Sara Mitchell, left, a kindergarten and first-grade paraprofessional at Hopewell Christian Academy, stands with a group of students Tuesday at J&J Foods on Jesse Jewell Parkway. The students used money they raised to pay for random customers' grocery bills.

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As she made her way through the aisles of J&J Foods on Jesse Jewell Parkway, Elma Blackwell didn’t realize she was about to get a surprise.

Students from Hopewell Christian Academy were about to pay her bill.

"What?" the astonished woman said when a cashier told her that she owed nothing for the $40 in groceries.

"Oh, I just love it, and I sure needed it cause I just came from the doctor," Blackwell said as she left the checkout line. "Lord bless ‘em."

While Blackwell was checking out, a group of students from the private school watched through a store office with a
two-way mirror. The students raised $2,000 and used it to help customers pay for their purchases as a random act of Christian kindness.

"We do mission projects every year at our school," said Misty Smith, principal of the academy. "We gave this project as a suggestion. With the economy the way it is, we wanted to do something locally."

She said the students have sent mission funds to places such as Mexico and India and have looked at pictures of those they help. Watching the results in person was different.

"When you actually see a person and their reaction, it makes you want to do more," she said.

Louise Edge of Flowery Branch was the first recipient of the children’s kindness. She was clearly taken aback.

"I think it’s wonderful; God bless them," she said.

Sarah Wallace of Gainesville also had her groceries purchased.

"I sure can use it," she said as she left the store with her packages.

The cashiers handed the selected customers an envelope with a card telling them that the students of Hopewell had paid for their purchase.

The whole thing came as a shock to Terry Wills of Gainesville.

"I thought it was a joke at first," he said. "That’s great."

There was no announcement and customers were chosen at random by the students. Lee Ann Pittman of J&J Foods said the store was pleased to participate with the school.

"They’ve created a mission project right in their own community," Pittman said.



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