It Was One of the Scariest Days of Our Lives When Our Car Was Stolen—and Total Strangers Came to the Rescue

My family’s minivan had been stolen with everything inside, including our wallets and kids' car seats. Two strangers stepped in to make sure we got home safely, showing us kindness we needed.

Erica Coleman Wagner Ramstetter holding her son smiling
Photo: Courtesy of Erica Coleman Wagner Ramstetter

Imagine getting dressed after a parent-and-tot swim class. Your 2-year-old, eager to rejoin his dad and baby brother, darts toward the locker-room exit. As you toss on your coat, hustling after him, you realize your pockets are empty. Your hastily stashed cell phone, wallet, and car keys are gone. You've been robbed.

It gets worse. Your family's minivan has been stolen, too—kids' car seats and all—with your husband's wallet inside. Now you and your family are stranded miles from home, without cash, credit cards, or anyone to bail you out.

That was the panic-inducing scenario my family faced one cold February night this year. If not for the kindness of two staff members, things would have been even worse.

As my husband searched nearby for the minivan, I went to the front desk, where Heather, who was working that day, gave me a worried smile. She recognized us from previous swim classes and could tell something was off. "Our car was stolen!" I cried.

Heather helped me call the police. Matt, another staffer, let my husband borrow his truck and fetch our emergency money from home to buy new car seats. Heather stayed with me and the kids in the closed center, watching my toddler run around the lobby while I nursed the baby. When my husband returned in Matt's truck, Heather volunteered to install the new car seats in her SUV and drive us home.

Thanks to Heather and Matt, we didn't have to walk 10 miles in the dark. Their kindness brought us safely home and filled us with gratitude when so much else had been taken away.

This article originally appeared in Parents magazine's December 2020 issue as "The Act of Kindness That Touched Our Families: Our Mini Van Was Gone. They Got Us Home." Want more from the magazine? Sign up for a monthly print subscription here

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