Twelve-year-old Noah Aquino was captivated by how the elderly woman rubbed the colorful winter socks against her face as he overheard her exclaim that they were smooth and warm on her skin.
The Ocean Shores Elementary School sixth-grader was shopping with his mother at Rite Aid before dinner in Hoquiam two weeks before Christmas when he encountered the woman looking at the socks, suggesting she should buy them for herself. But the woman examined the price and said they were too much.
Noah’s mother, Kristin Farris of Ocean Shores, said she thought it was odd when she discovered Noah had placed the socks in her basket along with a Christmas tree-shaped candy selection at the store.
It was stranger still on Thursday to be contacted about the incident on her way with Noah to Denver for Christmas vacation.
The North Coast News was able to reach Noah and Kristin to verify a letter the woman, Lois Clark, sent to Grays Harbor Newspaper Group Publisher Stan Woody as a longtime reader, explaining how she had been touched by the gift of kindness from such a young person she had never met before. The only clues about the boy’s identity were that his name was Noah and that he was from Ocean Shores in sixth grade.
Ocean Shores Elementary Principal Rhonda Ham was given a copy of the letter and immediately knew the boy it referred to, since Noah was no stranger to doing kind things for others.
His mother, though, thought it odd the school was contacting and asking her about the encounter since she barely recalled it, and had no idea it had been memorialized by the woman who had received the gifts.
“The first thing I remembered was the socks, the lady with the socks,” Kristin said.
“We were in town to go to Casa Mia, and we ended up at the Rite Aid, and I don’t even remember what for. We were picking up some things, and then Noah came up to me and pointed out the woman. He started talking about her and these socks, and then he came back and put the socks in my basket. He said, ‘Can we get these?’ And I said, ‘For what?’ He just insisted, and then put them in the basket. So I just kept going.”
She shopped for some things for herself, some nail polish, and then Noah pointed out the woman again, who she said was probably as tall as her son, standing about 5-foot-2.
The woman reminded Noah of his grandmother, Kristin added, and he told her that he wanted to buy the items to give to her for Christmas. “He just loves his grandma,” Kristin said. “He’s always doing everything for her. And I could see he had tears in his eyes.”
He said, “Mom, can we just get these things for her?”
The socks cost about $8 and Noah was moved by the way the woman was looking at them when he first saw her in the store.
“I was walking over and she was looking at these socks, feeling them on her face, and then I told her she should buy them,” Noah said. “She said they were too expensive, and that’s why I wanted to get them for her.
“So when she walked away, I grabbed them and put them in my mom’s basket.”
The woman was stunned and “just so thankful” he said when he ran up to her to give her the gifts with a few extra surprises (see full letter below).
At Ocean Shores Elementary, Noah is known for his determination to help his community.
“He is an amazing young man,” Ham said of her student. “Earlier this year, he had a fund-raiser of his own and raised over $200, which he donated back to the school. This story brought tears to my eyes.”
That earlier fund-raiser consisted of Noah hosting a movie screening at the Shilo Inn, with popcorn, snacks and soda and proceeds to go back to the school to help purchase new playfield equipment.
“He wanted to do his own thing, and it all came together on the fly in the last minute. We raised $218 when it was all said and done,” Kristin said.
The gift to Lois Clark, however, was never intended to be anything but a small act of kindness.
“If I do something for somebody, I don’t make a huge deal about, so it’s hard for me to put it into words,” Kristin noted when asked about her son’s initiative. “He just wants to take care of people, so I just let him do it, and I help him to do that too.”
Lois Clark letter
Excerpts from the letter received by the publisher:
“I have been a reader of The Daily World for many years but have never written anything. I have been thinking about something that happened last week. I went to get my prescriptions filled at Rite Aid on Wishkah. I don’t get out too much since I lost my husband last year. I like to browse through the store each time I go. On a fixed income I can’t buy much more than necessities. Down one aisle hung some brightly colored fluffy socks. I picked them up, looked at the price (too much) and put them back. A dark haired boy behind me said, “those look really warm” and smiled at me. I said, yes they are they’re really soft. The little boy said, “you should get them.” I told him I couldn’t, just not enough money. Living mostly on oatmeal, I don’t have much left for such luxuries.”
“Outside the store, as I was getting in my car this same dark-haired boy walked up to me with two big bags and held them out to me. He handed me an envelope and I could see at the top of one of the bags were the socks I was admiring in the store. I began to cry. I asked the boy his name, he said “Noah.” I asked him where he lived and he said “Ocean Shores I’m in 6th grade now.” I then asked if the woman in the car, with the baseball cap was his mom, he said “yes, that’s her, have a great day” and ran back to the car and they drove away.”
“When I got home and looked in the bag. There were a pack of fluffy socks, chocolates, lotions, a puzzle book, a pack of pens and in the envelope was $100.”
“This was overwhelming and really meant a lot to me. I shared it with a neighbor who is on a fixed income too. I have been working on getting this written over the last few days. My fingers hurt and start cramping.
“Their generosity was so overwhelming I was speechless. I wanted to find a way to say thank you to this young boy. I figured this may get to his family if they read the news. It’s my only hope to get this message out.
“These last several months have been a dismal time for me without my husband. Without the warmth of kindness like this I’m sure things would have been dismal for me. I hope that the coming year finds even more caring and loving strangers. I don’t know how to thank these nice people they have made my holidays so much brighter.”
— Lois Clark