This stranger's amazing act of kindness has gone viral for the best reason.
Image via Nancy Alvarez/WFTV News.

Pam Brekke turned away from the register at a Lowe's store in Orlando, tears streaming down her face.

With Hurricane Irma barreling toward south Florida this weekend, Brekke desperately needed to find a generator to keep her dad's oxygen tank working, should he lose power in the storm, according to The Telegraph. But like every other store Brekke had visited this week, this particular Lowe's had just run out of a new shipment. She didn't know what to do.

"My father is on oxygen," she explained to WFTV News. "I’m worried about this storm."


Fortunately, fellow store patron Ramon Santiago was there to save the day.

Santiago had snatched up one of the last generators the store had in stock, and upon seeing Brekke in tears — and without even knowing the details of her dire situation — insisted she take his.

"It’s OK," he assured her as they embraced in a hug. "Everything is OK."

WFTV News reporter Nancy Alvarez caught the emotional exchange on video:

Posted by Nancy Alvarez, WFTV on Thursday, September 7, 2017

Alvarez shared the video on Facebook, noting she was "writing [the caption] through tears and with a heart full of pride for my community."

Natural disasters bring about the worst of tragedies, but they tend to bring out the best in ourselves.

From brave reporters putting their jobs on hold to save lives, to heroes who refuse to leave their neighbors behind, humanity shines brightest when our backs are up against a wall.

"She need the generator," Santiago, whose first language is not English, explained to WFTV. "It's OK. No worry for them."

Now, as Irma — the strongest hurricane ever to be recorded in the Atlantic Ocean — propels through the Caribbean, Floridians are proving once again that fear is no match for compassion.

"I'm very overwhelmed by that man," Brekke noted. "That gentleman was a great gentleman right there. God will bless that man."

True

If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.