When one 28-year-old Washington father mistakenly received $1,200 from a total stranger, he immediately gave it back even though it was money he sorely needed.
This past month, Gerrell McAllister woke up to an email from PayPal that someone had sent him $1,200. “It said, ‘You’ve got money!’ so I’m thinking, You’ve got jokes!” said McAllister, a cashier at a natural pet food store in Tacoma and a father to a five-year-old daughter. “I immediately woke up. I didn’t know where it was from.”
McAllister had been struggling recently after his mom suddenly passed away in December, but immediately returned the money to a man named Alan who was trying to send his daughter Melissa Trusler the money as a 30th birthday gift. “Tell her I said happy birthday,” McAllister wrote in a note to Alan. “Returning the money was instinctive because of the values my mom instilled in me. I’m trying to be the best person and provide the best example for my daughter.”
Trusler sent a note back thanking him for sending it back so quickly, and McAllister responded by asking that she let friends and family know how a ‘low income 28-year-old Black man from Tacoma with a 5-year-old daughter’. “Tacoma has a reputation of being lower-class and untrustworthy,” McAllister explained. “We call it the ‘Tacoma grit,’ but we’re not bad people. It was important to me to use this as an example to reverse some of those stereotypes, whether racial stereotypes or about young people. Hopefully, people can learn from it.”
Trusler shared the experience on Facebook, and people quickly began asking for McAllister’s contact details so they could send him money as karma for his good deed. “As soon as that one arrived, it was nonstop,” said McAllister, who teared up at work when he realized what was happening. “Majority of them have such heartfelt, heartwarming messages.”
“To be honest I haven’t checked my PayPal since that day,” said McAllister, who still doesn’t know how much money has been donated so far. “I want to try to message everyone back individually to say thank you.I don’t want the money to detract from that. I don’t want that to dilute the intent.”
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[Featured image: Gerrell McAllister]