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Man pays stranger’s college tuition after drive-thru chat

USA TODAY logo USA TODAY 11/05/2017 Sheeka Sanahori

KANSAS CITY, MO - A short conversation between a customer and employee at a fast food drive thru has changed both of their lives for the better.

Don Carter went through a Popeyes drive thru late one evening, just a few minutes before the restaurant was scheduled to close. He said he could tell the cashier was exhausted, but she was still kind to Carter.

She mentioned in passing that she wanted to go to nursing school. When Carter asked what kind of nurse she wanted to be, she told him, "It don't even matter."

Carter sensed her urgency to leave the fast food business and follow her dreams. As he pulled into his own driveway and ate his food, an idea dawned on him. "Why don't you pay for her to go to school?" he asked himself.

A retired police detective, Carter couldn't afford to pay for her school alone, so he asked his Facebook friends to help. One friend recommend he create a GoFundMe page. Within a week's time, he and his friends had raised more than $15,000 -- more than enough money for her to go to school.

About 15 of Carter's friends went back to the Popeyes to surprise the employee - Shajuanna Mays with their huge random act of kindness.

When Carter revealed to Mays, whom he'd only crossed paths with once before at the drive thru, what he'd done for her, the kind act moved her nearly to tears. She hugged Carter, and thanked everyone for their support.

Carter said the most important part of what he did wasn't raise the money. The key was being aware that a stranger he came in contact with had a need.

"My definition of kindness has evolved," Carter said. "It's not just being nice to somebody. It's slowing down enough to recognize the people in your space, and realize they're just like you."

He hopes more people will follow his lead in being aware of the people around them, so they can practice what he calls, "true, genuine kindness."

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