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Human Interest

Stranger Buys Mom of 4 a Pumpkin Spice Candle at Target for the Sweetest Reason: ‘I Was Tearing Up’

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When busy mom of four Erin Bennett went on a Target run on Wednesday, it started out like any other trip.

Bennett, who lives in Bristow, Virginia, had her two youngest kids with her as she hurriedly filled her cart with groceries and other necessities. Along the way, she grabbed a pumpkin spice candle and some makeup for herself, but when she got to the checkout counter, she realized she was over her budget, so she asked the cashier if she could put the items back.

“I’ll always pass by the beauty section and grab something and hope that I budgeted and the coupons give me a little extra so I can buy what I wanted to get for myself,” Bennett, 29, tells PEOPLE. “But I usually end up putting it back.”

That’s when a kind stranger who was in line behind her quickly offered to buy the discarded items for her.

“We had been chatting in the line. I had told him I felt so bad he only had one item because I had a cart full of kids and groceries,” says Bennett, a registered nurse who has been a stay-at-home mom for the past few years. “But he didn’t mind.”

The man, whom Bennett describes as an older gentleman with grey hair and a grey beard, immediately told her that he wanted to buy the items for her.

“I said I couldn’t let him do that, but he insisted and said, ‘You deserve something for yourself.’ Then the cashier grabbed the items and let the man swipe his card before I could say no again,” she says.

As Bennett, whose kids range in age from 9 years old to 5 months old, turned to leave, she says she started tearing up and told the man: “I’m going to give you a squishy baby hug. Is that okay?”

“I had my baby strapped to my chest and I gave him a quick hug,” she adds.

What the stranger didn’t know was that Bennett has postpartum depression, and she uses scent as a way to boost her mood, so the pumpkin spice candle was extra special for her.

“I was diagnosed with postpartum when my second child was 7 months old,” she says. “My doctor mentioned making sure to take a little time for myself to do something nice for myself — like making sure I get my shower every evening, alone without a kid with me. And I like to use scent, I’m huge on scent, it totally boosts my mood.”

Later that evening, she told her husband Ernie about her experience and then took to Facebook to share the sweet story in hopes of finding the man to give him even more recognition.

“To the man in line behind me at the Gainesville Target, who saw that after hitting my grocery budget limit I decided to put back my Pumpkin Spice candle and the makeup I had picked out,” she wrote. “You didn’t know that I always save my stuff for last and usually end up putting it back. You didn’t know that the two fussy kids I had with me, were only two out of four. You didn’t know that I have postpartum depression from the youngest baby and that I use scent as a way to boost my mood.”

“You saw me as human, not just the mom in front of you that was distracted and going way too slow. You heard me to say that I’d like to put those items back and you said you were getting them. You didn’t take no for an answer,” she continued. “You told me I deserved it when I started to tear up.

“You Sir, are the good in the world. You made my day, probably my week, and I WILL pay it forward. Thank you so much for your kind heart and words.”

Bennett’s post has since gone viral, with almost 8,000 likes and 3,000 shares.

“I haven’t found him,” she tells PEOPLE. “He either doesn’t have social media or he’s actually an angel.”