As parents, we hope that when our kids are out in the world they act with thoughtfulness and kindness. Kari Mobley, of Piedmont in Haymarket, now knows her son Aiden does just that – but it wasn’t he who filled her in.
Aiden, a 10th grader at Highland School, and his schoolmate Anthony Aleman, made a quick stop at the Gainesville Target in August, where they noticed something in the checkout line.
“Anthony and I grabbed a drink and a snack, and we got in the shortest self-checkout line we saw,” Aiden said. “We noticed a boy and girl checking out in front of us, and the boy was trying to buy a collectible figure. He was a little short on money and he seemed very upset.”
Aiden and Anthony watched the boy, Alex Fulda, his younger sister Lili, and their mother leave the store, and without hesitation decided to buy the figurine for him.
“I asked the cashier how much, and we added it to our stuff,” Aiden said. “We were able to catch them just outside the doors. I told him we saw he was upset that he didn’t have enough money, so my friend and I decided to buy it for him.” The boys handed Alex the item. “He seemed a little shocked — he was like wait, what just happened,” said Aiden. His mother thanked them, sharing that she thought they were really nice kids.
What Aiden and Anthony didn’t know was that Alex has high functioning autism, and sometimes when things don’t go as planned, the disruption can be upsetting.
“Alex wanted to get this figure he collects,” said mom Samantha Fulda of Gainesville. “He thought the sign on the shelf stated the price, but it wasn’t correct. He got to the register and didn’t have enough money.” The family is working on budgets and life skills, so Samantha told Alex he could return after his next allowance to make the purchase. “He went to a bench and sat down while I purchased some things for his sister, and It was all he could do to not cry,” Samantha said. “I noticed the two young men behind us because they were speaking nicely to my daughter. At that point, my focus was on buying our items and leaving the store. As we left, I heard the boys say ‘Ma’am!’ as they walked up to Alex and said “Hey, we noticed you wanted this.’” Once they got home, Alex wanted to let people know of the boys’ kind actions, so Samantha posted on Facebook via the Prince William Chatter and Highland School pages.
“A bunch of people started texting, asking if that was me, and at first I didn’t know what they were talking about,” Aiden said. “The post mentioned that one of the teenagers was wearing a Highland Hawks 2024 tee shirt.” Kari searched for the post, and upon locating it, messaged Samantha with a picture of Aiden in the shirt. “I asked her if this was the boy, and she said yes,” Kari said. “It was nice to hear from another mother and know that, even when I am not around, my son is making good decisions. We’re very proud of him.”
“I thought we were going to have this big life lesson on budgeting,” Samantha shared. “Instead, we had a big life lesson on being a good human, and how small things can make a huge difference.”
Alex told her he always thinks of kids his age as being potential bullies when he is upset; he never thought of them as being able to help. “It has started many talks, changing his perspective – how he can trust and also be helpful to other people, too,” she said. “When the post blew up on Facebook, Alex was so moved. It has been a huge point of conversation and a huge lesson for both of my kids on how to be kind.”
“Aiden has always had a very caring heart,” Kari said. “He has always been good with kids, even the younger ones. He wants to be a friend and be happy.”
“We complain about our teenage boys being compulsive – and in this case they were, but in a good way,” said Samantha. “They didn’t think about it and just did it – they were clearly being good kids. It was just so lovely.”
Aiden and Anthony received a reward for their kind action, too. “It made me feel pretty good that we did it,” Aiden said. “That certain feeling inside when you do something nice for someone – it’s a good one.”
Above, from left: Aiden Mobley and Anthony Aleman.