Seven-year-old Janae Nolan has been giving out messages of support to colleagues at Asda Chadderton during the lockdown – so when they heard that the doll's house her mum Jodie had ordered from another shop wouldn't arrive in time for her birthday they pulled out all the stops to buy it for her themselves to say thank you for her kindness.
They tracked down a similar doll's house at the nearby Asda Living store, had a whip round raising £70 to pay for it as well as £115 for some other birthday presents. Then they surprised Janae when she called in at the store with Jodie on one of their regular shopping trips – making a special tannoy announcement, singing happy birthday, sending her birthday greetings, and revealing the surprise.
Jodie says the experience was truly wonderful and is something that her family would never forget.
Colleagues at the store, where Janae's aunt Michelle works, have got to know Janae well over the last few months.
Since lockdown began, she's been handing out her homemade thank-you cards like the one pictured below to the keyworkers at the store when she calls in with Jodie on their weekly shopping trips.
She's also been making cards for the team at Manchester Children's Hospital, where her 12-year-old brother Jaden goes for regular appointments for a number of health issues.
Jodie said: "She just wanted to make everyone smile... and she did! She's made people smile and cry. The cards simply said "Thank you key worker, you're the best – love Janae!
"When she first started doing them she was writing them out, but as she was giving more and more out she realised that this was wasn't doable so we bought a printer. She cut them out with zig-zag craft scissors and put them in a little pouch on her belt and every time we saw someone in a uniform or someone who was working she would give them one. I work at a school and Janae has given some of the cards to my colleagues and teachers there too.
"I am unbelievably proud of her. Everywhere we go people say 'Hi Janae' and wave. She's so humble about it all too, she doesn't think what she's done is such a big thing."
Jodie says the gesture from colleagues at Asda Chadderton when they found out that the doll's house she'd ordered elsewhere for "Barbie-obsessed" Janae had fallen through was extraordinary.
"For the whole of the Chadderton store to come together and do that for Janae and not make us pay for it was wonderful," said Jodie. "She is mad on Barbie – that's all that she wanted for her birthday."
Jodie built the house and Michelle wrapped it up then took it to the store ready for Janae to collect.
She said: "Janae's quite outspoken, quite loud and vibrant but when she opened the present she was actually lost for words. When she opened the card and the money fell out she was like 'Wow!'
"To the colleagues it might have been a small gesture of appreciation, but they will never understand what it meant for her. The lockdown's been hard – it's been hard for everyone. I had to break it to Janae that there was no way I would be able to get the doll's house to her for her birthday, so for the team at Chadderton to get her one and go on and fund it for her was fantastic.
"From the bottom of my heart I couldn't thank the store manager Miranda, my sister and everyone at Asda Chadderton for doing what they did – whether they contributed 10p, 50p or £1 they did that for her and all over a little note which was no bigger than two inches."
Janae's aunt Michelle, who's worked at the petrol kiosk at our Chadderton store for 22 years, said : "I didn't realise that Janae was handing out the cards in our store until I saw her in here and heard people saying 'Did you see that little girl handing our those little cards?' I said 'that's my niece!' I was so proud. Everyone was so touched by what she did. One of my colleagues even knitted a love heart for her with her name on.
"With Janae's birthday coming up I just asked colleagues that if my daughter Kadie, who's 11, and I made some birthday signs and laminated them would anyone be willing to have a picture saying happy birthday from everyone at Asda Chadderton – then I put them in a video for her.
"And when I found out that the doll's house that had been 'lost in transit' I asked our manager if we could get one from one of our Living stores and then colleagues decided to do a collection too. It just got bigger and bigger from there. Little Janae has definitely touched a lot of people's heartstrings. I can't believe everyone was so generous."
Store manager Miranda Jarratt says everyone at the store has been touched by Janae's kindness.
She said: "The little cards made by Janae thanking key workers were such a beautiful and thoughtful thing for a little girl to do. Many of the colleagues here wore them next to their name badges.
"When we found out about her doll's house we made sure we got one from one of our Living Stores – and then the colleagues decided to chip in and pay for it which was a lovely gesture. When Janae came into store to pick it up we made a real fuss of her and sang happy birthday. I said a few words over the tannoy telling people what she had done. She really deserved all the attention, as she's been so kind."