When Debbie Phillips took her school-aged son with her to go shopping, she could have never guessed what her son would do once they were inside the store. Debbie’s 10-year-old son Leon spotted something while they were browsing in their local Asda store in Hunt’s Cross, which is a suburb of Liverpool.
Leon set his eyes on a special toy panda, and it was love at first sight. The toy, called “Lovable Huggable Panda,” was the perfect toy for Leon. He was desperate to take the panda home with him on that fateful day, not wanting to give any chance that another child would take the stuffed creature home with them.
But, after asking his mom for the stuffed animal, Leon learned that his mom couldn’t afford the £15 toy until the next payday. Heartbroken over the news, Leon made up a plan to keep the toy, which he lovingly named ‘Pandy.’
Leon decided to put Pandy in an empty cardboard box, leaving it on the shelf. He then decided to put his writing skills to good use, and began writing on the outside of the box.
His note was as sad as it was heartwarming.
“My mum doesnt have anuff money, so she’s byeng me Pandy next week 15 June. So please don’t bye him it will make me cry – thank you so much from his hopeful future owner. Pandas name is Pandy.”
Staff at Leon’s local Asda store spotted the bear tucked into the cardboard box. They read Leon’s note, and were touched by his words. Workers banded together and decided to raise the funds themselves to buy the panda for the boy. They also posted photos of the box and the panda on social media to help locate the panda’s hopeful owner. That’s when Debbie saw something on Facebook that caught her eye.
“A few days later I was flicking through Facebook – I hadn’t realised until then what Leon had written – he’d really poured his heart and soul into his message.”
Debbie took her son back to the store, where workers at Asada were standing by to present Leon with his beloved panda. Everyone had a smile on their face that day, as Asada workers say it was incredibly rewarding to pay it forward to one of their youngest customers. Leon told his mom how much the staff’s gesture meant to him.
“As he was walking out he said to me ‘This is the best day of my life’. It meant the world to him – thank you so much Asda!”
The amazing work by the Asada staff couldn’t have come at a better time, as Debbie and her family were still recovering from losing their youngest son Oliver. Debbie says that the loss was incredibly hard for everyone, as the entire family was looking forward to the arrival of her new son.
“In January my son Oliver was born prematurely and passed away four days later so it’s been a really tough, difficult time for all of the family, especially the children who were so involved in the lead-up to the birth.”
Both Leon and Debbie are eternally grateful for the kindness and love they’ve received from the Asada staff, especially after such a heartbreaking time for their family. We’re sure Leon will always remember the amazing surprise, and will treasure his toy panda for years to come.