A US college student has expressed gratitude to Reddit users who sent him food after he revealed he could not afford to buy anything until next week – and all he had left was a bottle of syrup.
The Reddit user, who wishes to remain anonymous, posted in the No Stupid Questions subreddit, which is designed for people to ask things they would feel uncomfortable talking about with people in real life. On 23 January, the student wrote: "I just ran out of food until the start of next week and all I have left is a bottle of syrup, realistically if I ration it can I live off of it?"
He added: "Obviously I wont get the nutrients I need but Im just trying to make do until I can buy more food. I know this is unhealthy, but im concerned about if this can actually work? I mean, syrup really isnt "food" so I have no idea if this will actually fill me. [sic]"
The user was quickly inundated with offers from people to send food, plus advice about free resources accessible in his area. Multiple people ended up sending food, including pizza, and some offers were eventually declined.
The original poster later said: "Just wanted to make a quick post to thank everybody for the suggestions and even pitching in to help me out. Never realized just how many kind hearted people there are if you look =) I won't starve or have to try to live off of syrup thanks to some very generous users!"
Christina Aiello was one of those who jumped in to help. The 24-year-old software engineer from Massachusetts ordered the student a box of energy bars, a bag of trail mix, a box of oatmeal, a 20 pack of ramen and a healthy snacks care pack, all on Amazon Prime for a total of $81.27.
However, because the package will not arrive until Friday, Aiello also ordered him a pepperoni pizza, two orders of chicken wings and bread twists so he will have food as soon as possible.
Explaining why she wanted to help, Aiello told IBTimes UK: "It's just the right thing to do. I knew there was a person out there who wouldn't eat for a few days, and I knew I needed to send him food to help. I've been lucky to never have experienced something like that guy's situation personally, and I know that if I'm lucky enough to never have been in that situation, that I NEED to help someone who is in trouble."
Aiello, who was warned by several people that she might have been scammed, said: "I'd rather help someone who didn't need it than not help someone who did need it." She was told she should have instead donated to registered organisations, but said she already does a mixture of monthly and one-off payments. And she was security-conscious, sending the user-in-need her full LinkedIn profile before asking for his address.
Asked about the philanthropic side of Reddit, Aiello added: "I think helping people though Reddit is amazing. I've seen it happen a few times before, and it's always put a smile on so many people's faces. When I had the chance to do the same thing, I knew I HAD to do it."
Aiello was called an "inspiring" woman who restored users' faith in humanity after revealing her actions. One person offered to split the cost of the food with her, but she just asked them to pay it forward instead – something Redditors have previously been praised for.
She said: "The reaction on that thread was incredible, but honestly what's most incredible about it isn't the Reddit gold or the karma, but the number of people who told me in comments or direct messages that what I did cheered them up and made them want to help people too.
"Some people told me they were having bad days and this made their days better, others said they'd been in a similar situation to the guy who needed food, and some people said they planned on donating their money or time after seeing this."
There are several subreddits on the website dedicated to paying it forward with acts of kindness, whether with food or gaming giveaways. Some of the biggest are /r/RandomKindness, /r/Random_Acts_Of_Amazon, /r/RandomActsOfGaming, and /r/Random_Acts_Of_Pizza.