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Lodi Woman Says Teen’s Selfless Gesture Changed Her Life

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Nick Janes Nick Janes
Nick Janes joined KOVR/KMAX in December 2008 as a reporter. Nick...
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LODI (CBS13) – A Lodi woman says a 14-year-old boy selling newspapers subscriptions changed her life with a simple offering she will never forget.

Ask Robynn Fried how she’s doing these days and she’ll say with a smile, “I feel incredibly blessed.”

Just weeks ago she was in rough shape — unemployed, going broke and struggling to put food on the table.

“I was literally two weeks from being homeless. We were putting in our 30 days and we were going to be homeless,” Fried said.

It was last month when Fried heard a knock at the door by a 14-year-old boy selling newspaper subscriptions. The chance encounter took an unexpected turn which Fried says turned everything around for her.

“He gave me my hope back,” she said.

The teen was raising money for a trip to Tahoe. When Fried explained why she couldn’t afford a subscription, the 14-year-old reached into his pocket, pulled out an envelope full of money he’d just earned and offered it to Fried — a complete stranger.

Fried told the unassuming, fast-talking Artem Smal that she couldn’t possibly accept his money.

“Like this, she’s like ‘no I couldn’t.’ I’m like, ‘why?’ She’s like, ‘no, I couldn’t take it from you.’ Alright, so I just went to the next door,” Smal said.

Maybe he didn’t think twice about it, but for Fried, the teen’s small gesture of generosity meant the world.

“I had just given up on getting a pharmacy job at all. Literally, the day before I’d just given up hope and what he did gave it back, brought it all back,” said Fried.

Her luck turned around almost overnight. A friend called about a job at a Stockton Walgreens, and the next week Fried started work in the pharmacy department.

“I usually always give money out,” said Smal.

It feels good he says, especially “because she actually got a job.”

Fried truly believes she owes her good fortune to a selfless stranger who gave her strength and hope as she hit rock bottom.

“He made such an impact,” said Fried.

Fried says she hasn’t talked to Smal since that day, but she hopes to take him out to dinner soon to show her appreciation.

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