By Amanda Boston

In February, the well-known series Chicken Soup For The Soul released its latest book titled Random Acts of Kindness. The new compilation conveys 101 individual stories about compassion, random acts of kindness and paying it forward. When the global publisher solicited for stories on benevolence, it welcomed a record number of submissions. One of the submissions featured in the book was from Valrico resident, Rodney Burton.

Burton’s story took place in August 2013 at the Staples store in Brandon. He said, “I felt prompted by God to purchase school supplies for a teacher.” In the checkout line, Burton studied the basket belonging to the lady in front of him. Based on the contents, he presumed she was a teacher. After confirming his speculation, he discreetly bought her entire basket of school supplies. Although Burton did his good deed in private, the account of his random act of kindness unfolded over social media and local news.

Burton never intended for his simple act of love and appreciation to become public, but was thankful for how God has used it to inspire others. Perhaps, Hebrews 10:24-25 is the first text to cite how an act of kindness spurs others to do the same. “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”

Good works glorify God. Burton explained, “It has nothing to with me—it’s all him (God). I am just an average ordinary person—just average. The only difference is that I choose to open my heart and listen.”

In Burton’s case, saying yes to God incited a community to pay it forward to its teachers. He also suggested that his short-lived spotlight has opened up other opportunities to share his faith and bless others.

Burton and his wife Audra live in Valrico where he runs his Results Health & Nutrition studio. Burton works with clients to reduce stress by eating better and exercising. He said, “I am blessed to be able to help others on a daily basis.”

To read more of Burton’s story, you can purchase Chicken Soup for the Soul: Random Acts of Kindness from Amazon, Barnes & Nobles and Indie Bound. For information on the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, visit