Sometimes an innocent gesture of a child can inspire the most beautiful and amazing kindness of strangers.
When 10-year-old Leon saw a stuffed panda bear at his local Asda supermarket in Liverpool, England, he knew he had to have it.
As he told This Morning, the stuffed bear’s eyes caught his own eyes, and he thought it would be perfect for his prized collection of stuffed animals that share his bed, each personalized with their own name.
But sadly, it wasn’t meant to be. His mother, Debbie, told him they couldn’t afford the bear right then. While Leon often gets an allowance to buy himself something, their budget was too tight that week.
Leon’s mother said they could come back another time to buy the toy.
“It was one of those weeks that you had to get the essentials in and I couldn’t give him the money,” she told the Liverpool Echo.
The family has had a challenging year. With two other children at home, she lost a child after a premature birth in January, and it was hard on the whole family.
Despite his mother’s promise that they could come back to the store to buy the panda, Leon wasn’t taking any chances. With only two pandas left in stock, he knew someone else might come along and snatch them up. So he decided put a hold on one of the bears—in a way only a child could think of.
Leon put the bear in a box and hid it behind some other toys. He also wrote a note telling other prospective buyers to please be kind and leave the bear where it was.
“My mum didn’t have enough money to buy me Pandy so she’s buying me Pandy on 15th June so please don’t buy him as it will make me cry,” he wrote. “Thank you so much from Hopeful Future Owner.”
When an Asda employee discovered the handwritten plea, the supermarket staff was so touched that they all chipped in to buy the panda bear for the boy.
The store made daily PA announcements trying to track down Leon, and an employee posted the photo (which got some news attention) on Facebook.
David, who posted the Facebook story, told Asda:
“When we spotted the panda and the message on the box in the toy aisle, all of the colleagues just fell in love with the whole idea of it.”
Find pandys new home, a little boy really wanted this teddy and left this in the toy aisle Last week at Asda Hunts Cross…
Debbie then spotted the story in her Facebook feed.
“I didn’t click on the story at first, and then I realized that it was the same panda that Leon had wanted and left in the shop,” she told the Echo.
So Leon and Debbie returned to the Asda, where the boy and his bear were finally united.
Everyone was moved by the event. Debbie said that “I was getting all emotional seeing Leon with Pandy, and Leon was welling up too. It’s so lovely that they took the time and cared so much to make sure Leon got Pandy.”
For Leon, it was “the best day of [his] life.”
— Asda (@asda) June 25, 2017
But it gets even better: Leon got so much more than the stuffed animal.
After the story broke, Leon and Debbie (and Pandy!) made an appearance on the British daytime program This Morning.
After telling their story, the family got a huge surprise.
Hello from Pandy! 👋 pic.twitter.com/j7YzTbIKzq
— This Morning (@thismorning) June 28, 2017
The hosts handed Leon a bamboo scroll, which the family began to read.
It said Leon and his family were receiving a trip to Hong Kong to visit Ocean Park, where Leon would get to meet real-life pandas!
Exciting news – Pandy is going to Hong Kong (with Leon and his family)! ✈️👍 pic.twitter.com/0D6nBISkl8
— This Morning (@thismorning) June 28, 2017
And after receiving all this kindness, Leon decided to pay it forward.
Leon took the money he was planning to spend on Pandy and donated it to charity: The Honeysuckle Team, a bereavement service that helps women after the loss of a baby, which had helped his family. The organization gives teddy bears to grieving families.
Leon thought it would be fitting to put his stuffed animal allowance towards the cause, which will help other families like his.
Today one of our Aching Arms bears made an appearance on This Morning on national T.V. While Leon and his mum, Debbie,…
What an incredible story, and what generous behavior for everyone involved! It truly demonstrates that random acts of kindness go a long way, inspiring more charitable actions in other people, including young children.
And it all started with one small note from a sweet 10-year-old boy.