SMITHFIELD — Amber Whyte and her son Noah were at a neighborhood garage sale when someone stole Noah's brand new iPod Touch. For an impressionable 8-year-old boy, what happened next proved to be a powerful lesson: Even though there's some bad in the world, there's also a lot of good.
The Whytes were cleaning up at the garage sale, and Noah had set his iPod down to help. That's when a thief snatched the iPod Touch, a gift from his parents for his baptism the week before.
"He was initially disappointed and baffled and in tears that somebody could do something that like," said Whyte. "As a mom, you're trying to do anything to fix it."
So Whyte posted a message on her Facebook page and on the Cache Valley Classifieds site, pleading for the thief to return the iPod, no questions asked.
The thief didn't respond, but nearly 200 other people did.
"People just started commenting and commenting and commenting," Whyte said.
Many offered to help pay for a new iPod, some donated money online and one person anonymously sent Noah $20. Noah's friends even pitched in.
Soon it was not about the iPod, but a lesson in giving and the kindness of strangers.
So many people helped me that I want to help so many people.
"It's really touching that random strangers can give me so much money," Noah said.
In less than a week, Noah had enough money to get a new iPod Touch and some accessories, which was not what his mother expected.
"It's just an iPod. There are people with bigger problems," Whyte said.
She appreciates the gestures, though. And so does Noah, whose moment of disenchantment turned into hope.
"So many people helped me that I want to help so many people," Noah said.
Noah's planning on paying it forward. As for the thief, Noah hopes that person learns a lesson, too. "It's OK. I forgive you, but remember again that it's not nice to take things."
If the thief has a change of heart and returns the iPod, Noah said he'll give it to a friend who's disabled or sell it and donate the money to charity.