WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — A North Carolina mother sent a text message to the wrong person and wound up sparking an unexpected friendship.
On May 24, Candice Benbow received a text message from a woman in Winston-Salem saying she needed to answer the phone and pick up her kids. Confused by the message, Benbow responded saying the woman had the wrong number.
"When I didn't answer, I got this text message and she's like, ‘Anthony you need to call me because you said you were going to pick up these kids,’" Benbow said.
The woman thought she was texting the father of her children and only later realized she had the wrong number.
"She realized that I was actually telling the truth. She told me that he was supposed to get the kids this past weekend -- Memorial Day weekend -- because it was her birthday weekend, so I told her, ‘Well, we're going to find Anthony,’" Benbow said.
Benbow took it upon herself to search for the children's father on social media and asked her followers to share the message.
The two women later discovered Anthony was in jail and unable to contact the children's mother. "We found out that he was arrested, and so that completely thwarted all of her birthday plans," Benbow said.
"My mom was a single mom, a lot of my friends are single mothers and single moms just have a really soft place in my heart," Benbow said. Benbow decided to give the woman a birthday present: She posted on her social media pages, asking her followers to send gifts to the woman so she could enjoy her birthday weekend.
"I started getting all of these notifications from Cash App and from PayPal to the point where it totaled over $3,000. So over $3,200 of people just donating," Benbow said. The gifts ranged from a dozen cupcakes to an offer for free summer camp enrollment for her children.
Benbow is keeping the woman's identity anonymous, but she says she's overwhelmed by and thankful for the generosity of others. "She was like, ‘Please tell everybody thank you so much,'" Benbow said.
Benbow is originally from Winston-Salem but lives in New Jersey. She's planning to make a trip to Winston-Salem to meet the woman, who is using the donations to not only celebrate her birthday but to take care of herself and her children. Through this unique situation, they've built an unexpected relationship.