It all began with a stuffed panda hidden on a shelf full of stuffed giraffes. An Asda employee from Hunt's Cross, England discovered the toy, but before he could put it back where it belonged he noticed a note scribbled in a child's handwriting on the box.
“My mum didn’t have enough money to buy me Pandy," the note read, "so she’s buying me Pandy on 15th June so please don’t buy him as it will make me sad and I will cry, thank you so much from hopeful future owner."
The employee, David Bateman, was so moved by the note that he did just what it asked. Normally the store won't hold products for customers, but Bateman couldn't bring himself to turn down the request. He posted a photo of the heartbreaking note on Facebook, asking people to help him find "Pandy's new home," and track down the child who wrote the note.
The store went all out, holding the toy in the stockroom and making a daily announcement over the intercom to help track Pandy's owner down. Finally, 10-year-old Leon Ashworth came back to the store to claim his stuffed friend.
Leon says that the moment he saw Pandy, the toy's eyes "gleamed" at him, and he knew he had to have it. His mother Debbie could tell how badly he wanted the toy, but says that it was "one of those weeks that you had to get the essentials in and I couldn’t give him the money."
She offered to advance him some pocket money to buy the toy in a week, but the staff wouldn't hold Pandy until then. Heartbroken, Leon asked her "what if someone buys this mummy?"
His solution was to write his note asking other customers to leave the toy alone, and against all odds it worked. In fact, store employees remembered Leon and how badly he wanted to buy "Pandy." Together, they chipped in to pay for the toy themselves.
Leon ended up repaying the act of kindness, taking the allowance money he planned to spend on Pandy and donating it to charity instead. In January, Debbie has a miscarriage, and a special charity called the Honeysuckle Team supported her.
The charity provides support for women who have miscarriages and stillbirths at Liverpool Women's Hospital. Part of their program involves providing "aching arm bears," stuffed animals that comfort the grieving mothers. That means the money Leon saved for Pandy will buy a bear for someone in need instead!
But there was one more happy twist in this uplifting story: after Leon and Pandy's story was featured on This Morning, the show surprised his family with a vacation in Hong Kong, where they'll get to see pandas up close!
As the host said, "that was a good trip to the supermarket wasn’t it?"
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