A Christmas Eve miracle.

That’s how a Columbus woman describes an unusual act of kindness and generosity she experienced a week ago.

Paula Alvis usually depends on public transportation during the winter to get to and from work. But she works on Sundays, when city buses don’t run.

This particular Sunday was Christmas Eve, and a bicycle — even with a chain that slips and brakes that don’t work — was going to be her best option to get to work by 11 a.m.

Story continues below gallery

In fact, she said, it was the only option that the server at Johnny Carino’s Italian Restaurant had available to her.

But as Alvis reached an area just east of 10th Street and Central Avenue, 10 blocks from work, the chain slipped off the bike and the gears locked up, she said.

Her distress got the attention of a woman in a pickup truck, who pulled over and asked Alvis if she could give her a ride.

After Alvis accepted the offer, she explained her situation to the driver, who identified herself only as Mary.

In response, Mary — whose last name could not be discovered in time for this story — asked Alvis if it was alright if they stopped by her South Marr Road apartment for a moment before taking her to work.

Alvis waited for only a few minutes outside the apartment when Mary emerged with a brand-new bicycle and presented it as a gift to the stranger she had just rescued, Alvis said.

“She blew me away!” Alvis said. “I just grabbed her and hugged her.”

The retail price of the new 26-inch Avalon 6001 bicycle is listed on a number of websites in excess of $140.

Mary explained she had originally purchased the bicycle to give to a grandchild, but she was convinced by the server’s situation that she needed it more, Alvis said.

If the free bicycle were the only factor being considered, Alvis admits her experience would not qualify as a miracle.

Rather, it was the example of the true spirit of Christmas that Mary displayed that Alvis said she finds so remarkable.

That was just what Alvis needed; she had been dreading spending Christmas alone, as her two grown children had other plans in Florida.

“There are a lot of rude and unhappy people,” Alvis said. “But this woman proved there are still those with remarkable good hearts in this world.”

When the current cold snap is over, Alvis and some co-workers hope to catch Mary at her apartment to better express their gratitude, she said.

Pull Quote

“She blew me away! I just grabbed her and hugged her.”

— Paula Alvis, Columbus, on gift of a new bicycle from a stranger known only as Mary

Author photo
Mark Webber is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at mwebber@therepublic.com or 812-379-5636.