Kindness of strangers allows San Jose business owners to travel for mother's funeral

A long-time business owner in San Jose now has the money to travel to his hometown of Cambodia for his mother's funeral thanks to the kindness of strangers. It was a trip his family couldn't afford until his customers stepped in.

Henry Yam and his wife Judy have worked at Manley’s Donuts for 17 years, coming here from Cambodia for a better way of life. They had no idea complete strangers were raising money for them and are shocked and grateful for the support.

At the end of busy Lincoln Avenue in San Jose’s Willow Glen is Manley’s Donuts and behind the counter is Henry Yam and his wife Judy who work 363 days out of the year. Henry starts work at midnight to prepare donuts to have the shop open by five in the morning. They have no complaints, grateful to have a job.

“We are happy,” said Manley’s Donuts Owner Judy Chhay. “We work seven days. Sometimes we stress out but we are happy to be with customers.”

While Henry doesn't speak much English, he usually has a big smile on his face except one day earlier this month, he found out his 92-year-old mother who he hadn't seen in 8 years, had passed away in his native Cambodia.

“I feel just unhappy,” said Yam.

Judy told only one customer and said they couldn't afford to go back for the funeral. Regular customer Andrew Feuerstein overheard the conversation.

“I didn't say anything,” said Feuerstein. “I heard them saying it and I just felt so bad. For me, I’m just really close to my family and I know I would just be heartbroken if I was in that position.”

Feuerstein in turn told his fiancé, a long-time customer who instantly wanted to help.

“I just think they are really sweet and I see how hard they work and how much they love their family,” said Leah Brady of San Jose.

She then turned to the “Willow Glen Wishes” Facebook page created four years ago by Loretta McNatt to help those in need. Loretta then started a Go Fund Me page. The response was overwhelming. In one day, the community raised $3,000 surpassing their goal.

“Despite everything that's going on in the world all the turmoil and the world divided, it's just important we don't lose hope,” said McNatt. “We always have to remember there is kindness and there is compassion.”

Over the weekend, they all visited the family and told them.

“I just surprised because I didn't know that,” said Yam. “I didn't tell anybody. I’m so happy. Thank you for supporting me.”

It proved to all of them their hard work hasn't gone unnoticed and a small act of kindness can go a long in making a big difference in someone's life.

“We still have a lot of nice people in this world in this community,” said Chhay.

As for the trip to Cambodia, the owners are looking for a baker to help at the store. If they can't find one, they plan to send that money to their family back home to help pay for funeral expenses.