A New Jersey mom’s video of a touching moment between her daughter and a store cashier has gone viral.
Mary Ann Hedderson’s TikTok video, which has picked up over 307,000 views since she first shared it in December, shows a situation many parents can relate to.
Hedderson was visiting a Dollar Tree store in West Orange, New Jersey with her mom and daughter when her 2-year-old, also named Mary Ann, started to act up.
“It was right around her naptime and I knew that we had to wrap up quickly to get her home – otherwise, it was going to be meltdown city,” Hedderson recalled to “Good Morning America.”
As Hedderson suspected, Mary Ann soon began to cry. But to her surprise, Fatimah Leftwich, a mom of two herself and a Dollar Tree assistant manager, swooped in to help.
“She allowed me to pick her up and I had her start scanning the things that her mother put up on the register, that she was buying. That calmed her down a lot,” Leftwich told “GMA.” “She cracked a smile. She stopped crying. … I said, ‘You're a fast learner.’ So I let her keep ringing up everything. And she stopped crying after that and she was good.”
Even though it was a short interaction, Hedderson said it made a world of difference – not just for her daughter but for herself as well, in a moment when she said she was “really struggling” and her “patience was very thin.”
“It instantly changed her mood because it distracted her from how tired she was and how much she didn't want to be there and how much she wanted to be picked up by me,” the 38-year-old mom of three said of the effect the act of kindness had on her daughter.
“It changed my mood, obviously, because I was so anxious in that moment,” she said.
Leftwich said what she did was a “normal reaction” and came naturally to her.
“That's just how I am as a regular human being. Like, if I see anybody hurting, I see children crying, I don't like to see them crying. I don't like to see them hurt. … I like to make that next person's day,” Leftwich explained.
Hedderson said she wanted to share the video of Leftwich giving her family some support to hopefully support Leftwich herself, who at the time, wasn’t sure if she would still get to keep her job, because the store they were in was scheduled to close.
“[Leftwich] really did not have to do that and it was very sweet, very sincere,” Hedderson said. “Like I said in the video, she deserves the world because she really does. She was just so kind in that moment.”
Hedderson said she hopes the video of her daughter and Leftwich will inspire more acts of kindness.
“It really does not take a lot to be kind,” Hedderson said. “She saw me struggling in that moment. I'm a complete stranger to her. And that saying, ‘It takes a village’ … your village can be, really, for a mom, it really can be anybody. And she was wonderful in that moment.”
Leftwich said the reaction to the video has been a “blessing,” with other strangers reaching out to help her financially since it went viral. She also said she has since been transferred to another Dollar Tree store in Newark, New Jersey.
“I'm just a regular human being, trying to make a person happy and brighten up their day,” she said. “That's just how I am.”