Employees at Idaho's Meridian Library were going through the mail after the Thanksgiving holiday 2017 when they got a sweet surprise.
Inside one of the packages was a book — Thomas Rockwell's "How to Eat Fried Worms" — that had been missing from the stacks.
Getting books in the mail is no major shock at Meridian. The library finds that visitors passing through or patrons going on vacation will often mail back items to avoid fines.
Along with this particular book, however, there was a curious handwritten note.
"I found this book on an airplane last month," the message began.
"I called your library to notify them. I failed to return on time (and) apologize. Please add this $5.00 to the person's account that borrowed the book as a credit. Thank you."
Sure enough, along with the note was a $5 bill.
The good Samaritan had been hoping to get the book back to the library before the due date but couldn't and decided to assume responsibility for the late fee.
Obviously, they were under no obligation to pay the fine, and their small, understated generosity floored the library staff.
Knowing you have a book overdue at the library and not being able to find it is one of those little stresses that can add up big time.
It's like having a sink full of dirty dishes or being behind on laundry. It's not a source of massive worry, but many unresolved things added together can make you feel anxious and overwhelmed — too much of which is certainly bad for your health.
So while a stranger returning a book and paying $5 in fines may seem inconsequential, the act is inspiring thousands of people who have read about the story online.
"Everyone is loving this heartwarming story," says Macey Snelson, who heads communications and marketing for the library. "I think that this is resonating with people so much because we live in a world where the news cycles are filled with contention and negative stories, and it's refreshing to see a story that shows that people are inherently good."
This story proves that even a teeny, tiny act of kindness, in a small part of the country, can have a big impact.