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Mystery man pays it forward

A young man walked through the doors of the Outreach Food Shelf in Alexandria on May 5. He took a quick look around and laid something wrapped in green tissue paper on the desk where Vicki Bump, the food shelf’s treasurer and food coordinator, was working. He slipped out, hardly noticed.

Vicki continued to work for a short while before grabbing the tiny package.

“It looked like a candy bar,” she said. “I thought, ‘Why would someone donate a candy bar to us?’” She quickly realized her error.

Carefully wrapped in the fragile paper, Vicki found 50 one hundred dollar bills.

This wasn’t the first time the young man had visited the food shelf. According to a brief conversation Vicki had with him, he needed the organization’s assistance 10 years ago.

“He told me, ‘You were here for me when I was really down and out,’” Vicki said, recalling the conversation they had shortly before Christmas. “He said he just wanted to pay it forward and then asked if we wanted donations in form of check or cash.”

When Vicki told him that it didn’t matter, he left 10 one hundred dollar bills on the counter, also in tissue paper. He quietly disappeared, just as he would do again in May.

“He was no older than 35,” Vicki said. “He didn’t want any recognition. He can’t even claim [the donation] because there’s no proof, no receipt.”

Vicki said that every month she spends $20,000 on food for the shelves to be stocked. With the man’s last donation being $5,000, he effectively paid for a week’s worth of food for the clients who utilize the food shelf.

Annie Harman
Annie Harman is a reporter for Echo Press and The Osakis Review. She grew up in Detroit Lakes and graduated from the University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire with a degree in print journalism and history in May 2012. Follow her on Twitter at annieharman
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