Walmart’s Christmas Miracle

Brooke McKeon Miles-Prouten is a longtime Westporter, and proud Staples High School Class of 1996 grad. 

Her babysitter, Leah Zilich, is a young 1st grade teacher at Fox Run Elementary School in Norwalk. Leah often provides snacks, supplies, even socks for her students.

This morning, Brooke posted this story — written by Leah — on Facebook. Sure, the Westport link is tenuous — but this holiday season is not the time to get all Grinchy. Just read it, enjoy it — and pay it forward.

A Christmas miracle occurred today!

Walmart-LogoA visit to Norwalk’s Connecticut Avenue Walmart in the morning is a daily routine in my life. Whether I’m getting snacks for my students, supplies for school, or just odds and ends, I am there when the doors open at 7 a.m.

The other day a man approached me, labeling me his favorite customer. Come to find out, he’s the general manager. We got to talking. I explained I am a teacher down the road.

He asked me if I needed any supplies for the school. I told him we always need supplies, but right now we need toys for kids who won’t have a single thing to open on Christmas. He told me to come back the next day. He’d see what he could do.

Of course I returned this morning. To my surprise this incredible man, Kelvin, donated $3,000 worth of toys and supplies to Fox Run! This Christmas is about to be very, very merry! 

I’m ecstatic! Also, I cried in the middle of Walmart!

What an incredible human being. Thank you Walmart, and thank you Kelvin, for showing us the true meaning of Christmas. You have impacted these children’s lives immensely!

Kelvin and Leah, outside the Connecticut Avenue Walmart.

Kelvin and Leah, outside the Connecticut Avenue Walmart.


19 responses to “Walmart’s Christmas Miracle

  1. Beth Orlan Berkowitz

    So glad you posted this! Brought tears to my eyes and made me wish more people in the world were like Kelvin and Leah!

    There is also a Westporter who has rallied the parents in Westport and Fairfield all year to provide school supplies, back packs, toys for Santa to give to the underprivileged children in nearby Bridgeport. She has also been able to bring car seats, baby supplies, food, beds, furniture, and so much more and hope to many families struggling in Bridgeport. Her name is Jimeale Heade and she has done all of this and touched thousands of lives all through Facebook on the Westport and Fairfield parents page that was started by another westporter, kami Evans. Thank you to all for paying it forward! The world could learn some things from these people!

  2. I didn’t even realize there was a Walmart nearby. But thanks for sharing the story about the generosity of Leah, Kelvin, and Walmart.

  3. Boy, this really journeys into difficult terrain. Who can be against giving toys to needy kids? But what about a harder look.

    Isn’t this the same as folks like Rockefeller and Carnegie paying completely inadequate wages to thousands of workers and then using the vast wealth they accrue to give a small portion back in the form of charitable giving (which incidentally makes them look like great benefactors).

    We all know Walmart has been very late to the game in providing a living wage for its employees and still has a long way to go. And they only upped their wages in response to a nationwide campaign of pressure by labor groups and citizens.

    So, I would say this is not the act of generosity it would seem, but part of a very self conscious reach for needed good PR on the part of Walmart and a cover for being an exploitive employer. This is not the feel good story it would seem.

    • Josh, I disagree. The manager did this on his own (though I’m sure he has a budget to cover it). But I don’t think he did it seeking PR. No one would have known about it, unless the teacher said something (and others passed the story along). Walmart did not issue a press release about this.

      I posted this not because I am a huge Walmart fan, but because it shows sensitivity and generosity by one manager, in a quiet but meaningful way.

      • Well said. Obviously I’m not a huge Walmart fan either–I’ve never shopped at one–but this story was one worth sharing.

    • I was expecting this. I’m sure there are wrong things that Walmart does, but in my experience, the complaints are usually made by upscale folks who don’t need to, and don’t like to, shop at downscale places like Walmart — or labor union leaders who have an axe to grind — and who also tend to be among the well-paid themselves.

      When the whole hate-Walmart thing started years ago, I made a point of asking working class people, when it was pertinent (e.g. a taxi driver when we drove past one, or cleaning people and handymen when we talked about where to buy supplies.) In every case, the answer was, essentially, “I like it because it’s cheap.”

      I guess the question is to these upscale folks is: are Walmart’s wages and benefits worse than most the more upmarket places YOU frequent. So, here are comparisons from of starting hourly wages:
      – Walmart: $9.31
      – Urban Outfitters: $8.92
      – Chipotle: $9
      – Barnes & Noble: $8.84

      I agree the chain retail business as a whole pays way below a living wage — and support more sensible minimum wage legislation. The trade off, of course, would be higher prices, and quite possibly, more stores going out of business. But why single out Walmart, except that it’s run by, and patronized by, the kind of people that you aren’t?

    • Nancy Hunter Wilson

      Typically, a lovely deed brings negative comments. Why is that?
      A sad commentary, indeed.

  4. I am sure you are right in one sense. But I am also sure Walmart gives a certain amount of discretionary funds to their managers to do good deeds, in the service of corporate PR and this pool of money is infinitesimal compared to the amount the company accrues from paying inadequate wages.

  5. MERRY CHRISTMAS ONE AND ALL …. Kelvin, Leah, Walmart, et al. You, too, joshua Markel.

  6. To all at this special season…Brooke is my very giving, caring daughter (who I am so proud of!) who was so touched that there was another caring person to help her friend, Leah – who gives her “all” each day teaching the youngest & and some of the neediest – have a wonderful Christmas.
    Leah shared the need, Kelvin filled the need and Brooke Shared this story to give us a glimpse of the true meaning of this holiday…
    Thank you…and Merry Christmas to all!!

  7. Josh, a simple “thank you” was the right response.

    And Peter, “working class people” — really.

    But except for the parking, ya’ gotta love this town.

  8. Charlie Taylor

    There IS a Santa

  9. Wonderful, wonderful story, Dan. Thanks Brooke and Leah for sharing it and Kelvin for his generous spirit.

  10. Nice story Dan. Thanks and Merry Christmas..

  11. Sharon Paulsen

    This was a nice story to read about today, amidst the perpetually horrible news out there.

    What a nice break!

    However, some of the “elitist” comments here made me want to throw up.

    I could have countered those comments with a generically-lumped-together “snob” criticism.

    But, NO one likes to be “profiled” … amiright?

  12. I have left upscale Connecticut, not all that far from this Walmart. I remember Kelvin and I know he is one good guy. As for Walmart snobs: they are everywhere, even here in Arkansas where Walmart tends to take care of its own and employs a huge number of Arkansans. I am truly sick of my acquaintances who, although they would not dream of steeping into a Walmart, have a whole lot to say, even when I try to tell them about the excellent treatment I get there on a very regular basis. I am also told by people who shop there because it is the only place they can afford to shop, that their gratitude for Walmart is strong. I am lucky enough to have some level of choice, and I still shop at Walmart — and a whole lot of other places. Get over yourselves you Connecticut snobs who think you have even the slightest idea of what you are dismissing out of hand. Bah, humbug to you.

  13. Mary Lynn Halland

    A super Merry Christmas to Kelvin for making the Christmases of many children much, much brighter.

  14. Marcy Anson Fralick Staples Class of 1970

    To Kelvin, the General Manager, for stepping up, Leah for sharing her students’ stories, Wal-Mart for making Christmas possible, and Brooke for bringing it to Dan’s attention, I say, “Merry, merry Christmas!! And a Happy New Year!”

    And for the Grinches and Scrooges out there who have nothing good to say about Wal-Mart, denigrate their participation in gift-giving as than honorable intentions, to you I say, “Bah Humbug! May your stocking be filled with rocks!”