It may feel like spring on the First Coast, but the holiday season has arrived. Sometimes, the most precious gifts don’t come wrapped in a bow under a tree, rather in the form of an unexpected gesture from a stranger.
Inside a Neptune Beach jewelry store Wednesday, two friends bonded over a shared passion for bike riding.
Just two weeks ago, the men were just strangers eating at the same diner.
“And I said ‘honey, there’s that bracelet you bought me for my birthday,’” Michael Hosto said.
That birthday gift, Hosto told First Coast News, was later returned after Hosto told his wife he didn’t wear jewelry. But at the diner, he had a change of heart.
“’I really like it on him,’” Hosto said he told his wife, referring to Jay Lubeck. “And I could tell that he heard me say that, and he looked over at me and without saying anything he took the bracelet off of his wrist and he reached over and handed it to me.”
“It’s kind of my go-to bracelet,” Lubeck, owner of Jewels by Lubeck, said. “So to share it with Michael was tons of fun and the expression on his face just to leave it, and it was his, was priceless.”
It wasn’t the first time the longtime jewelry store owner gave away something precious, and Lubeck said it won’t be the last.
“There will be somebody else that will admire and appreciate the bracelet and I’ll hand it to them,” he said.
Wednesday, First Coast News asked people around the beaches to share their own stories of acts of kindness.
One Mayport woman remembered an incident nearly a decade ago. She was a new mom and went to the store to pick up formula, only to realize at the register she forgot her wallet. An older woman paid for the products.
“The fact that she reached out of her own wallet to pay for my children’s things was completely above and beyond the nicest, kindest thing that anyone’s every done for me,” Jennifer Cobb said.
But for those who lack the most, including a place to call home, sometimes the most valuable things don't come with price tags.
“I was just real frowning and angry and upset and hurt,” Jolie Ritter, who is currently homeless, said of an incident years ago. “And they just smiled at me and it reminded me life’s too short to be miserable, no matter what the circumstances.”