SINGAPORE: In early March, Gold 905 deejays set out to make someone's day in a small way, and ended up taking away loads from the experience.
A video posted on Monday (Mar 20) shows the Gold905 team offering to pay for the groceries of unsuspecting shoppers at Giant Hypermarket in Tampines and being met with a range of reactions.
A group of students who had burst their budget while planning for an outing ended up not spending a cent at the supermarket. Another initially rejected the notion of having his groceries paid for.
"It's a very rare situation," said the surprised shopper.
But it was one couple's reaction that caught the attention of many - the man asked with skepticism why Mike Kasem would offer to cover his bill. He eventually relented.
"It's the first time in my whole life that people paid for (my family's) groceries," he said, tears welling up in his eyes.
The video has chalked up nearly 4,000 shares and a more than a quarter of a million views on Facebook.
The team from the music station - comprising Kasem, Vernetta Lopez, Jamie Yeo, Mr X and Denise Tan - began brainstorming in January, when they were reflecting on what Gold905 is as a radio station and how to stay true to its tagline: "Sounds good, feels good."
"How do we sincerely make people feel good? How can we spread those good feelings in a truly meaningful way?" the deejays asked, said Tan.
They came across a video by non-profit initiative Fill My Basket, based in Oklahoma City in the United States that helps complete strangers with their grocery bills. That was what kickstarted the entire idea, Tan said.
But when it came to the crunch, the Gold905 team was "really nervous starting out".
"My heart was pounding every single time I slipped behind someone in the queue. Because no person’s reaction is the same!" she told Channel NewsAsia. "The actual paying itself is also a bit of a thrill and extremely rewarding when you know you’re just showing someone that they deserve a kind gesture, they deserve to get a treat, they deserve a lucky break, that a stranger can care for you and share a little kindness."
"You just have to be brave and have a heart," she added. "Making someone’s day doesn’t have to be an enormous, expensive, grand gesture."
While many of the grocery bills did not cost a lot, the recipients' reactions were "exponentially greater" than the sum of their receipts, Tan said. "That was the ultimate, but unexpected reward."
The Gold905 team was also encouraged by the recipients' willingness to pay it forward. They received many stories inspired by their video - one person made a donation to a hospital, another woman decided to buy packets of food for the needy, and two sisters who were buying groceries for a family steamboat meal asked the deejays if they could do something in return after getting their grocery bill covered.
"They stayed true to their word!" Tan said. "We got an email saying they made a donation to a charity that distributes food to the less fortunate."
"Now that’s what makes our effort all the more meaningful and heart-warming – when one little idea and action gains momentum and that good intention grows and spreads and touches more and more people. We certainly hope this will be the first of many more chances for us to get together as a team to do good things for our community," Tan said.