Keyport mother pays it forward after the kindness of a stranger

A Keyport mother says that she is always willing to pay it forward after a random act of kindness during the holidays came at the most opportune time.
Donna Bonk describes December of 2011 as the worst month of her life. Her dad and her dog had passed away, she was getting a divorce and was struggling financially. But she says that it was one act of kindness during that month that she will always remember.
Bonk says that it was this week eight years ago when she borrowed her mother’s credit card to purchase holiday gifts that she put on layaway for her two young children at the local Kmart.
"I went up knowing that you know it was about $500 and they said $0.75. And I'm like no, it's $500, it's like $500,” she says.
Bonk says that she was told that a woman who had recently become a widow wanted to help someone. That woman had come into the Kmart an hour earlier and anonymously paid for Bonk's gifts.
"I just sobbed, because it was one of those things that it could not have come at a better time,” Bonk says.
Bonk says that she always believed in giving back. She says that this act of kindness changed her, making her want to help even more.
"It's just something you pay forward forever,” says Bonk
Bonk has taught her children Eddie and Allison about the importance of giving back. On birthdays, instead of gifts, they collect donations to help others.
"I mean what 9-year-old gives up birthday presents? Like, who wouldn't want Barbies? And it was the conversation of, ‘You know, do you need another Barbie or do homeless veterans need food?’” says Bonk.
The family even donated to Jon Bon Jovi's Soul Kitchen and got to meet the singer. Bonk’s daughter Allison says throughout the years she's donated many items to those in need, including cans of food, stuffed animals, and dolls.
"If I get stuff, I know that I'm happy. But I'm more happy when it's not just me that's getting it. It's also like the people around me,” Allison says.
Bonk says that she hopes that the tradition continues.
"The best thing that's come out of this I think is my children hopefully will raise their children this way, because it's just a part of who they are,” she says.
Bonk was at the Calvary United Methodist Church in Keyport Friday evening helping the community group Friends of the Bayshore get ready for their “Breakfast with Santa” event Saturday. She also donated to their toy drive. The group's chairman says that Bonk is so special because she never forgot that act of kindness years ago and continues to try to help others.