Community steps up to ‘shower’ challenge

Published 6:00 pm Tuesday, December 5, 2023

A simple act of kindness followed by an innocent Facebook post has turned into a “baby shower” to end all baby showers.
On Nov. 28,, a young mom inadvertently started a movement by personally paying for a customer’s drinks while working as the cashier at the McDonald’s drive through in Brewton.
Loreal Cartier, mom of two daughters is expecting her third child, a baby boy on Dec. 23.
Through her act of selflessness, the community has been moved by the kindness she has shown and a drive through baby shower has been planned in her honor.
Caryn Bell, a former resident of Brewton now living in Cantonment, Fla., joined in the posts of admiration for Cartier and saw a place where she could help.
“It seems hard to believe today marks a week since I saw a Facebook post from a friend, Stacey Paden, commenting about the kindness of a stranger, a cashier at McDonald’s, who, without asking, took it upon herself to pay for two drinks with her own money when my friend’s debit card malfunctioned.
“Stacey posted a picture of the smiling cashier and commented that her selflessness alone was commendable, but the depth of her generosity was amplified by the fact that she was nine months pregnant and likely needed every penny for her son, Dre’siah, who is due December 23 . .The last line of Stacey’s post, ‘There are still good people in the world, and they exist in a little town called Brewton,’ gripped my heart. I think it’s because I grew up in Brewton and could immediately attest to this truth she penned so well.”
Bell said she may live away but that her heart never left Brewton.
“In fact, by now, all my friends are tired of hearing me say I love you Brewton Big. Someone once asked me what that meant, and I said, it means a lot of love packed into a small space, which is exactly what I found when I continued to read the flood of comments regarding the mysterious cashier who was eventually identified by name.”
After a few more posts and responses on social media, Bell said she quickly got to work in planning something special for the “angel in disguise.”
Arrangements for the event are Saturday, December 9 at 12:30 p.m. at the McDonald’s on South Boulevard in Brewton.
“My identical twin sister who is a teacher at Pace High School posted the details to her social media as well, and we both included our Venmo accounts for people who live in Santa Rosa County who might want to donate to the “Brewton Big” movement as we have dubbed it,” Bell said. “We knew many of them would not be able to attend, but we volunteered to do the shopping on their behalf. In one week, we have accumulated $800 for Loreal and will be doing the shopping this week in preparation for the shower.”
Bell said even the manager of the local McDonald’s got in on the action with assistance for the event.
“The general manager of McDonald’s reached out to me and said the owner is ”Lovin’ It,” Bell said. “He has donated $300 to decorate the restaurant for the shower, and they have added extra staff to accommodate the traffic of those coming in for lunch on Saturday.”
Bell said the response from people in and around Brewton — and even out of town — has been amazing.
“It is has been amazing to see all the ways other people want to help someone they have never met either,” Bell said. “A friend of mine gave me the idea for the hashtag but it is certainly catching fire with others #lovinlorealbrewtonbig Another friend volunteered to design shower invitations. Like me, all of these people just want to do something good for someone who has done such good for others.”
Bell said it is the selfless act of Cartier that has made this something even more special.
“I can only guess this selfless act is only one of many for Loreal,” Bell said. “The other times maybe nobody noticed, but this time someone did, and it has made all the difference. Maybe the message here is that someone is always watching and sees our hearts even in the mundane tasks, like taking an order at a drive thru window. In a world where many of us have sat behind the wheel of our cars in comfort grumbling about how long our fast food orders are taking, how the order is wrong again, how places are short-staffed, or how much minimum wage in increasing, Loreal’s act of kindness reminded me that rather than complaining about the ones who are getting it wrong, I want to spend my time celebrating the ones who are getting it right. Furthermore, I want to be one of the ones who gets it right too. Like Loreal, I want to be patient and kind to everyone I meet. Her actions have taught me that it’s always the right time to be kind.”
The Brewton McDonald’s is located on South Boulevard just past the Burnt Corn Creek Bridge.