The only thing better than seeing an act of kindness is watching it being replayed over and over again – 900 times, to be exact! That’s precisely what employees at a Dairy Queen drive-thru in northern Minnesota witnessed a few weeks ago.
The holidays are a time for giving – a thought that seemed to be in the minds of this fast-food restaurant’s customers in Brainerd, Minnesota, when they participated in a “chain reaction of kindness.”
Tina Jensen, the store manager at one of the two Dairy Queens in town, told CNN how it all started.
On Thursday, a man came by the drive-thru window and asked the cashier if he could pay for his meal and for the person behind him.
Jensen said this kind of thing happens sometimes but lasts for 15 or 20 cars at most before it ends.
However, that wasn’t the case during Thursday’s lunch rush.
This time, the “pay-it-forward” chain continued for two and a half days, with over 900 cars participating! The store ended up collecting around $10,000 in sales.
When the next customer came by the shop’s drive-thru window, the cashier would tell them what the previous customer had done. This encouraged patrons to repeat the act of kindness for the next person.
“We started just asking and encouraging and letting them know, you know, ‘It’s been five cars, it’s been 15 cars, it’s been 30 cars. And you know people starting getting excited about it and it just continued,” assistant manager Sandra Quam told CBS News.
And it went on and on and on.
“There’s all different types of ways to help people,” Jensen told CNN. “I think this touched a lot of people that we didn’t even know it touched, deeper than we know. And you don’t know what’s going on in a person’s life.”
When the chain closed on Thursday night, one person left $10 so that they can keep it going the next day. The same thing happened again on Friday night, so they were able to get the chain back up on Saturday morning.
At each day’s end, Jensen provided an update on the number of cars that had participated on the store’s Facebook page.
Heidi Bruse went to the Dairy Queen location for dinner Friday evening and became one of the recipients of the act of kindness.
“During times like these it kinda restores your faith in humanity a little,” she said. “The way the world is now you see a lot of anger, tension, and selfish behavior. What we witnessed was pure kindness and it was a breath of fresh air really.”
But getting free ice cream wasn’t the best part; it was going home to tell her family that she had participated in the chain and helped keep it going.
“The gesture was way more valuable,” she said.
Like so many other food businesses, the restaurant has faced difficult challenges since the pandemic began.
“With the lobby shutting down, being only open for take out, being able to open for half your capacity, different things like that,” Jensen admitted.
The chain reaction of kindness that began Thursday lunch and lasted until Saturday evening helped keep the employees’ morale high.
“Our kitchen crew was like, ‘Are we really still going?’ I said, ‘Yep, we’re still going,'” Jensen told NBC. “Especially now and how things have been going this year, it definitely helped us here in the store with our crew members. Very excited for them.”
With every passing car paying it forward and seeing customers’ reactions upon being told that their meal had already been paid for was touching.
“No matter what’s going on, take care of each other, be positive, be happy and don’t focus on the negative, we’ll get through it,” Jensen said.
We couldn’t agree more! Let’s all do our part in spreading the holiday spirit be it in a drive-thru etc. by being kind and generous to one another, especially during these challenging times.
Watch the chain reaction of kindness that spans over 900 vehicles below: