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Teenage HEB cashier befriended 89-year-old customer who died of Covid-19

Jessie Garcia, Jr. is the newest CASH FOR KINDNESS recipient
Jessie Garcia, Jr. is the newest CASH FOR KINDNESS recipient
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Video of a toddler giggling as her grandmother plays with bubbles is one of the last recordings of Margaret Zepeda.

"Within a few days, she was feeling ill," Amanda Stricker, Zepeda’s granddaughter told Fox San Antonio.

The 89-year-old contracted Covid-19 shortly after the holidays. Doctors eventually placed her on a ventilator.

“She only made it a few hours,” Stricker said. “When they called about the medicine, she had passed."

Services were held at Hurley Funeral home in Pleasanton early February. The pandemic greatly impacted attendance. But, out of the dozen or so people seen paying their respects in the chapel was a masked mystery man who sat in the back.

“We went and looked at the guestbook, actually,” Stricker told Fox San Antonio’s Ryan Wolf. “And, we saw his name. And, so then that's when my aunt realized who it was. And, then we noticed because he had his HEB mask on."

Stricker nominated that person for the CASH FOR KINDNESS award.

“Jessie?" Wolf asked.

Jessie Garcia, Jr. was surprised outside his home.

“How are you my friend?” Wolf asked.

“Good,” he responded with a smile.

“I'm Ryan Wolf from Fox San Antonio."

Stricker told him she was coming over to give him some of her grandmother’s belongings. Garcia is 70 years younger than Zepeda. They were the unlikeliest of friends.

“Why did you go to 'Miss Maggy's' funeral?” Wolf asked.

“Because she was the sweetest person that I've ever met," the 19 year old said.

Zepeda had shopped at the HEB in Pleasanton, every week, for decades. She looked for her friend ever since Garcia asked to help load her groceries.

“She didn't want my help,” he said laughingly. “She didn’t. She was like, ‘Oh, I can do it. I can do it.’”

Garcia helped anyway.

“So, I took out her basket,” he recalled. “And, we were in the parking lot talking and getting to know each other. You know, by time I looked at the time, it was 30 minutes and I had to get back to work!"

Stricker said her grandma shared hugs, holiday cards and swapped stories with the teenage cashier over the next three years. It gave the family a sense of relief knowing she was being looked after there.

“To find out that you had taken a day off from work for the services just really, really meant a lot to us,” she told Garcia. “ We wanted Atascosa County to know, Bexar county to know, all of your friends and family to know, what a special person you are."

Wolf shared the real reason why he was there.

“This is for you," he told Garcia.

Wolf handed him a stack of $100 bills.

“$100, $200, $300, $400, $500,” Garcia counted. “Oh wow! That's a surprise!"

"Miss Maggy" may be gone. But, her family hopes her spirit will endure in other kind acts-- sure to follow.

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“I'm speechless,” Garcia said as he stared at the money. “I'm at a loss for words, you know. It's just something I do when I'm there. Be kind to people. Smile."

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