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Val pictured paying for groceries at the local supermarket.

Tears & Ten Dollars

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It was the type of moment where you “know when to offer help” — as the Choice Bank core value states. Val Walker is an Insurance Manager for Choice in Grafton, ND. This particular autumn day, she was picking up a few groceries over her lunch break.

While she was waiting in line, she noticed the woman in front of her seemed flustered.

“I had never seen her before in town,” Val said. “I think she may have been here for harvest season.”

The woman had her son with her, a young boy around 9 or 10 years old. In her cart were simple items; a loaf of bread, a few pieces of fruit, some lunchmeat. She seemed nervous, but Val couldn’t figure out why.

When it came time to pay, she handed the clerk an EBT card. The clerk responded, “Ma’am, you’re 10 dollars short,” she said. At that moment, the woman’s son distracted her and Val noticed she didn’t hear the clerk.

Without missing a beat she got the clerk’s attention.

“I can cover the rest,” she said quietly, without the woman noticing.

The clerk smiled and nodded.

After she finished tallying up the total, the remaining balance displayed clearly on the register: $10.53.

Now, the woman had noticed the price. Val saw the look on her face.

“It was like a weight dropped onto her shoulders,” Val said. “She was in a complete panic.”

Val handed the clerk her credit card and gently touched the woman’s shoulder.

“Don’t worry about it,” she said. The woman looked up, her eyes large. “I took care of the rest,” Val explained.

“Oh my gosh, oh my gosh,” the woman said. “Now you’re going to make me cry!”

Wiping her eyes, the woman took her son’s hand and walked her cart and groceries over to the cart slot. When Val finished paying for her own groceries and headed toward the door, the mother walked over and touched Val’s shoulder.

“Thank you so much. You made my day,” she said.

When Val got back to the office, she shared what had happened with a huge smile. Now, her co-workers had tears in their eyes, too.

“Val is always doing things like this,” said Morgan Smestad, a Receptionist and Loan Assistant in Grafton.

Knowing when to ask for help and knowing when to offer help is a core value that comes to mind for Val, as well as better the places we live.

“I’m just so thankful I was there when I was,” Val said. “I’d do it again in a heartbeat.”