The actual $20 bill received.
                                Submitted photo

The actual $20 bill received. Submitted photo

A lesson in generosity

Girl receives a gift from an anonymous shopper, then uses it to buy gifts for others

POULSBO — When Bethany Swift took her three daughters to the Dollar Store in Poulsbo on Dec.9, she didn’t imagine the trip would end up being a lesson in kindness.

“Our girls get incentives for doing their homework and getting good grades,” said the mother of a blended family with five children. “My younger girls were bugging me to take them to the Dollar Store so they could spend the money they’d earned.”

Daughters Lillian Pondelick, 10, and Charity Tyson, 9, were looking for things to buy, their older sister Harmony Tyson was looking for things to buy them for Christmas.

“A lady walked up to her and asked her what she was doing, and Harmony said she was shopping for Christmas,” her mother said. “When they ended up next to each other in line, the lady handed Harmony an envelope that was marked ‘Merry Christmas.’”

Harmony told her thank you and the lady left the store.

“It wasn’t until we were out in the parking lot that Harmony asked me if she could open the envelope,” said her mother. “My children know to be careful when strangers give them anything. But I told her she could and inside was a $20 bill.”

Bethany and her girls looked for the woman in the parking lot but she was no where to be found.

“When I asked Harmony what she looked like, she said she had pretty blue eyes and a blue coat,” Swift said. “And that she was about Grandma’s age.”

“It made me really happy,” said Harmony.

And then she asked her mother what she should do with it.

“I told her ‘Now we can think of something to pay it forward,’” Swift said. “And she asked me what that meant.”

After her mother explained that it meant they needed to do something nice for somebody else, Harmony asked if she could spend it on gifts for her sisters.

“We went to another store and she spend $10 on her sisters and kept the other $10,” Swift said. “We talked about how wonderful it was especially in this season for someone to want to make someone else happy.”

“I asked her what she’d do if she ever saw the lady again and she said ‘I’d give her a really big hug and tell her Merry Christmas.’”

Swift said at first Harmony thought she’d just save the $10, but now she wants to pay it forward some more.

“She asked me if she could put it in an envelope and do the same thing,” her mother said. “I told her she could do whatever she wanted with it.”

Harmony, her mother said, is a girl “with a really big heart.”

“She’s always helping me take care of her baby sister (who is 1),” Swift said. “She’s always looking out for the younger kids too.”

The family, which lives in Little Boston, includes the 1-year-old Lenaya, and a boy, Isaiah Pondelick, who is 12.

When they got home on Saturday, Swift posted about the incident on Facebook and shared the positive experience.

“Everybody just said (posted) how great Poulsbo is,” Swift said. “And they said they were all grateful to live in a community that has people like that out there.”

— Leslie Kelly is special sections editor for Kitsap News Group. Contact her at

Harmony Tyson received a $20 gift from an anonymous donor, and spent it on gifts for others. (Bethany Swift/Contributed)

Harmony Tyson received a $20 gift from an anonymous donor, and spent it on gifts for others. (Bethany Swift/Contributed)

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