When a giant chain store hits hard times, most people do not think much about it – at least, not beyond some cursory nostalgia that brings back memories of, say, visiting that store with their parents or grandparents years earlier, or bringing their own children or grandchildren there to do some shopping together. When the UK electrical retail store Comet hit hard times this autumn, however, there were more people affected than just those who worked there, and there were more things for the general public to think about than simple nostalgia. After all, Comet made a number of unpopular decisions, including a failure to ship out-of-stock items that had already been purchased (as well as a failure to refund the money spent on these items), and – impacting even more people – a decision to no longer honor vouchers or gift cards that had already been paid for.
Of course, one group of people that was hit particularly hard by these decisions was those who had been planning to use their vouchers for their Christmas shopping this year, as they were now left with vouchers that were totally worthless. While a corporation such as Comet might be able to overlook the plight of such people, however, the truly amazing thing was that they also overlooked the plight of people like Samuel Horton.
Samuel Horton is a four-year-old boy who suffers from cerebral palsy. While his condition affects a number of areas of his life, one of the key areas in which he is affected is in his ability to write, as his hand shakes too much for him to be able to write effectively – and with him entering school age, this was soon going to be a problem. But then, Samuel and his parents found out about a specially equipped iPad that would enable him to do all of his schoolwork without any inhibitions from his cerebral palsy. And not long after that, they were provided with the money by the Family Fund charity to purchase this iPad. The only problem was, the money was given to them in the form of a Comet gift card. And when Samuel and his mother went to the store to make the purchase, they were informed that the gift card would not be honored.
Needless to say, Samuel and his mother were shocked and heartbroken. They were even a bit angry at the company for failing to think about people like them when making such big decisions. Their frustration did not last long, however, as a certain “good Samaritan” soon heard about their plight through a news story that had run on their situation, and he got in touch with the Horton family to donate the money for the iPad to them directly.
From the perspective of John Alexander, the man who donated this money, it was a small act – just doing what he could to help someone in need. From the perspective of Samuel Horton and his mother, however, it was as if an angel had swooped down from Heaven to help them.
And from the perspective of Comet? Well, who knows – but one thing is certain: in spite of the evidence that sometimes arises to the contrary, there are still good people in the world, and there are still marvelous acts of generosity that take place.