It had been two days that Jesse spent riled up with nerves. He didn’t expect an easy outcome, considering the past year had been tough for them. He decided to check the mailbox. He felt his heart squeeze when he spotted the envelope with “Magnuson Sheetmetal” on it.
Jesse couldn’t put it off much longer, so he swallowed his nerves and opened up the bill. He gawked at what he saw, his eyes disbelieving.
In the modern world, life can come at you fast. Whether it’s trying to balance your dream career with your personal life, trying to eat healthy, stay fit, or stay on point with the newest trends, the pace never seems to slow.
The pressures of life can often be that much more difficult for parents. Life in the “family lane” can be difficult enough without the extra stress of all the added bills that parents must face too.
Younger couples can often feel overwhelmed as parents. When you’re in your twenties, balancing a life of work, home, and being a parent is no easy task. For the Hulschers, being young parents in an unforgiving world had been a reality for some time.
When their second child was born, life had changed. It wasn’t easy and the Hulschers had no idea that there were plenty more struggles to come.
Jesse Hulscher was a development consultant. His wife Maria had been devoting a lot more time to their two young sons. Usually on a single income, it wasn’t always easy to manage comfortably.
The couple did their best though and worked as hard as they could despite all the pressure. That pressure was already taking its toll and the news they received one afternoon only added to it.
When the couple learned that Maria was pregnant with their third child, they were excited. The happy moment also came with a degree of added stress too.
Already knowing the vast expenses that came with raising children, The Hulschers were a little nervous about the new expenses to come. Trying their best to only focus on the positives, they geared themselves for the road ahead.
As time passed, the excitement of the pregnancy and all the landmarks that came took all the limelight. Jesse and Maria were both relieved when each check up came back with positive news.
So far, their baby was healthy and growing normally; which was all either parent could ask for. As residents of Willmar, Jesse realized that they faced one other obstacle ahead.
Jesse and Maria live in Willmar, Minnesota. Everything was going so well for the young family. Then, later in September 2016, they shared the big news with friends and family — the Hulscher family was about to become a foursome!
But if something can go wrong, it will go wrong. Just when they thought things couldn’t get any harder, Jesse came home one night to a sight he’ll never forget.
After receiving the expected due date for their third baby, Jesse realized that the couple faced another problem. Their baby was going to be born in the dead of winter. As Willmar winters often dropped below freezing, this was not going to be ideal for a newborn.
The couple began stocking up on extra baby blankets and warmer baby clothes. Then they received news that changed everything.
After their initial checkups had gone fine, the couple grew excited to finally know what baby they were having. Learning that they were having a girl made them even more excited.
They loved their two sons immensely but were ecstatic to finally know that they would now have a daughter too. Time seemed to go by slower but the big day eventually began to draw closer.
On the night of February 22nd, Jesse was totally caught off-guard. Though she wasn’t due until March, Maria was going into labor.
That’s when Jesse knew things were about to get pretty rough for the young family. Little did they know, it was this night that would turn their whole lives upside-down.
When the Hulschers’ daughter was finally born, both parents were excited beyond words. Their little girl had arrived safely and was healthy; a unique feeling of relief that only parents could attest to.
After spending their first night in the hospital, mother and daughter prepared to finally come home. That was when Jesse first realized they had a huge problem.
Though Minnesotans are used to heavy snowfall, sometimes they just have to stay indoors and ride it out.
On the morning of February 22, the National Weather Service reported an enormous snowstorm coming toward southern and central Minnesota. Residents bundled in and locked up tight, but all they could do was wait.
The National Weather Service issued a Winter Storm Watch and expected it would begin as heavy rain on the evening of Thursday, February 23, and change to heavy snow on Friday morning.
Upon learning the news, the Hulschers figured they would still have time before the storm hit for Jesse to get Marie and her new baby from the hospital and take them home to safety. But they couldn’t have been more wrong.
It was right about this time that Jesse began preparing everything to welcome Maria and the baby to the house. Everything seemed to be in order, so he hopped in the shower before driving to the hospital to pick them up. But as he finished up showering, the water went cold.
Panicked, he went into the furnace room to see what was wrong. It was a nightmare come true. This really couldn’t be happening right now, could it?
The furnace in the house had gone out. Jesse tried to fix it himself, but to no avail. Knowing temperatures were likely to drop below 30°F (-1°C) that evening, he realized the danger it posed for his newborn baby.
This new disaster couldn’t have come at a worse time, and Jesse had been totally unprepared for it.
“Instantly I panicked,” Jesse recalls. “I have a two-year-old here, a newborn coming home…and this was before the big potential snowstorm.” He picked up the phone, praying for a miracle.
Jesse and Maria had no ability to fix the issue and the situation was looking extremely dire for these two well-meaning parents.
Jesse called a repairman that the family had employed a couple of times before. Unfortunately, he was completely booked and couldn’t make it to the Hulschers’ house in time. So Jesse went online to search for other repair companies in the area. But his bad luck wouldn’t budge.
All of the companies he called were busy helping other customers prepare for the storm. His time was running out. Then he remembered a crucial thing.
Money was already tight with all the added expenses, but it would all be worth it to finally have his little girl home. But now, their furnace was busted and nobody could help. Jesse began to panic. Without it, in the dead of winter, the house would be freezing.
There was no way he could bring a newborn baby home. Then, Jesse remembered something. He got on the phone, hoping and praying he could do something in time.
Not long before, Jesse had a conversation with a neighbor, who told him about an AC and heating business in the area. The neighbor gushed about the company, talking about their diligence and great customer service. But Jesse couldn’t remember the name of the business.
In a Hail Mary attempt, Jesse called his neighbor to ask for the details. It was a long shot, but he didn’t have any other choice.
The neighbor answered Jesse’s call and told him the name of the company: Magnuson Sheet Metal. He called them and spoke to co-owner Craig Aurand, trying his best to express the urgency of the situation. His plea worked, and a repairman was at his house within 20 minutes of hanging up. They were able to fix the furnace and get the heat up and running.
A crisis had been averted and peace had returned to their household — until they saw the repairman’s bill.
Then, almost a month after the incident, Jesse opened the mailbox to find the invoice from Magnuson Sheet Metal. If you’ve ever had to have your furnace repaired, you know that it’s not a cheap venture. And if it’s an emergency call, the cost is usually doubled.
That’s why Jesse wasn’t looking forward to opening up this invoice, but what he saw was something he couldn’t have ever prepared for.
The invoice listed the work that was done at Jesse’s house: “Repair furnace. Clean burners and pilot assembly.” But, in lieu of a dollar amount for the work performed, was this note: “No charge. Take care of the new baby.” “I didn’t know if it was a boy or girl, I didn’t know if I should get pink or blue,” the owner said. “So I figured, we’ll give the baby heat! How about that?”
Jesse and Maria could not believe it. “I was like, ‘What? No. This can’t be real’,” recalled Maria. But it was.
The kindness of this gesture made all the difference to the Hulschers. It enabled them to spend their new baby’s first days at home focusing on the happiness and joy of the moment, rather than stressing about the furnace bill.
They were touched beyond words. Jesse knew that he had to do something to ensure Magnuson Sheetmetal was honored for their warm gesture.
Jesse never underestimated the magnitude of what Craig and his team had done. The business world could be ruthless and it was especially tough for small, local businesses to thrive in the world of huge conglomerates.
This made Magnuson’s gesture stand out more. After publicly praising it and posting the heartwarming story to social media, Jesse and Maria ensured that Craig and the Magnuson repairmen were given due credit for their kind actions.
Jesse took to Facebook to thank Craig and Magnuson for their service and amazing gesture. “Businesses like this earn customers for life! Thank you Craig and your staff for the amazing experience!” he wrote.
The account touched so many hearts that it went viral, prompting a Minneapolis news station to air the story. What they found was that the good deed was not a one-off for Craig and his company.
According to the KMSP story, Craig has been known to help out families in need by forgiving small bills or doing work on holidays.
It wasn’t long before comments started flooding in, confirming that Magnuson Heating and Cooling had done the same for others in the area, fixing furnaces and the like for free in the hope that the lucky recipient would pay it forward to someone else in need.
The response to the story was overwhelmingly positive. Countless people praised the warmth and kindness with which Magnuson did business. As a result, tons of people vowed to recommend their services to others.
In a world beset by people always clamoring to get ahead, the story stood out as a beacon of hope that goodness still exists. As for the baby, with the warmth and love of her new home, she continues to grow and thrive with each day.
Soon, everybody knew about the incredibly kind gesture. But Craig insists that he hadn’t helped out as a PR stunt – he was just doing what came naturally to him.
“We didn’t do it for the PR, we just did it to be good people. That’s it. Just to be nice to these people,” he stated. “That’s what this is about.” Even so, the company has clearly built goodwill in the community.
Magnuson Sheet Metal’s Facebook business page was flooded with rave reviews and comments from people praising them for the gesture to the Hulschers.
“I read the story about how great you were to that family!! We need more people like you on this planet. Kudo’s to you and your company,” one Google review reads. But that’s not all.
“It is a blessing to have companies such as yours that not only does great work but also takes care of your community,” wrote one commenter. “True integrity is worth writing about. I wish every business operated with the high standards and superior service of Magnuson,” worte another.
The Hulschers themselves also vowed to be loyal customers — and also made one more promise.
“We will definitely be calling on your services again… just hopefully not too soon from now!” Jesse wrote on his Facebook post. Obviously, one always hopes not to need constant household repairs — but it’s good to know there’s a business you can count on to provide good and honest service.
On top of that, Jessie and Maria decided to pay it forward by giving back to their community. After everything that had been given to them, they figured it was the least they could do.
When Jesse and Maria learned that Oliver, the infant son of their friend Shawn Block, was taken to the Children’s Hospital of Minnesota with a severe case of meningitis, they knew this was their chance.
The Hulschers spread the word about Oliver’s plight and shared the family’s GoFundMe page to cover their medical expenses.
By the end of February, the fundraising goal had been met. It just goes to show how one seemingly small gesture can start a wave of goodness that helps friends, family, and even complete strangers in need – so pay it forward!
However, something even more surprising about this story and the ripples of kindness that followed is that it isn’t over yet.
Although it happened years ago, the story about the broken furnace is still circulating. As more people read the story about Craig’s kindness, the reviews on his company’s Google listing page just keep coming.
“That one simple kindness is still reaping dividends, just read your kindness to that family. May God be with you all, Happy New Year,” a recent review reads. In order to protect the privacy of those depicted, some names, locations, and identifying characteristics have been changed and are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblances to actual events or places or persons, living or dead, are entirely coincidental.