I don’t know about you guys, but I’ve got one foot in the black hole where the internet and all of its ugliness ceases to exist. Between keyboard warriors spewing their judgment after reading only the headlines of articles, sancti-parents telling all the other parents how they’re doing it wrong, and the embarrassment that is the daily White House Twitter feed, I am about ready to hang up my social media cleats, hop into my DeLorean, and return to a simpler time. Or at least one where I was young and optimistic about the world.
But you know what? I think, despite the horribleness of today’s 24-hour news cycle, that we’re actually going to be okay. And it’s because of stories like this.
Every town and city across America has one—a mom and pop restaurant, or diner, or bakery, or convenience store. An adorable couple who probably got married at 18 and miraculously work together every day without killing each other so they can run a business and cater to their customers’ needs. He may bark orders at her, and she may bicker back, but you can see how much they love each other as she flashes a smile and he rubs her shoulders as they close up shop after another long day.
Seal Beach, CA is no different. Here, locals can find freshly baked doughnuts at Donut City every morning, made by husband and wife team John and Stella Chhan—who have been serving their community for three decades. Only recently, customers started to notice that Stella wasn’t in the shop anymore. But when they found out the reason, their response will give you new hope for the future of humanity.
Chhan explains to ABC News that at first he thought Stella was suffering from a regular illness, but soon she couldn’t walk or talk, and he became worried. The diagnosis—a brain aneurysm—is something no one can prepare for.
After a 10-day coma, Stella appears to be on the mend but remains in the hospital, leaving the responsibility for running Donut City solely up to John.
As any business owner knows, if you close up shop, you don’t make any money. And that’s not something the Chhans can afford. So even though he’d rather be with his ailing wife, John still opened the bakery every morning and didn’t close until all the donuts were sold, which sometimes didn’t happen until well into the afternoon.
In fact, most recently, Donut City was sold out with its doors locked by 8:30 am. All thanks to some local customers who found out about Stella’s health and stepped up to help.
Local California residents realized their neighbors, who have served delicious doughnuts for over 30 years, and who also happen to be Cambodian refugees, needed some community to rally around them.
Because that’s what you do when your neighbor needs help. That’s how you treat your fellow American—citizen, immigrant, or refugee. That’s what you do if you really want to make America great.
Customers offered to set up a GoFundMe page to help the Chhans, but they declined, with John just saying he’d like more time with his wife. So more time he received. Through word-of-mouth, the Seal Beach community banded together—with most customers buying a dozen or two instead of one—so that a faithful husband can rush to his wife’s side and hold her hand while she gets better.
And, the literal icing on the cake of this story is when long-time customer Marc Loopesko shared with ABC News that he participates regularly in the buying out of Donut City and delivers the donuts to the homeless and city workers, such as firefighters.
Pretty sure this is it, folks. This is proof that we are still a great nation who supports one another. We are still a great nation who values hard work and family and community and loyalty. And who really loves doughnuts.
Thank you to the Seal Beach community for setting an example and a reminder (for the Americans who seem to have forgotten) what value immigrants and refugees have brought to this nation. And for showing us how true Americans respond when a neighbor is in need.