LINCOLN PARK — It was freezing when Shelley Stolman walked out of Lincoln Park's Lululemon store Monday night, and not only was she hit by a blast of cold air, but also the dreaded sight of a parking ticket on her car.
There was a candy cane on the ticket, which she figured someone had left to soften the blow, so she grabbed the items and hopped in her car to drive home to River North.
What she didn't notice was the $50 in cash tucked into the orange Chicago Department of Revenue envelope.
Along with the $50 was a note that read, "Sorry you got a ticket, we got this covered. Happy Holidays," signed by Lululemon Halsted with the hashtag #NoHumbug.
"I opened up the ticket when I was stopped at a stoplight and I was like 'Oh my God!'" Stolman said.
It turns out the women working at Lululemon didn't see Stolman walk into their store, but were doing their part to brighten someone's day.
"Obviously any small gesture, whether it's buying somebody's coffee or giving someone change on the street, is a nice gesture during the holidays, but this is a pretty grand gesture to pay $50 for somebody's parking ticket," Stolman said.
Stolman, who works as a speech pathologist at Illinois Masonic Medical Center, had stopped by the store at 2104 N. Halsted St. to return a few items after work Monday night. As wind chills plummeted below zero, she decided to flick on her blinkers in front of the shop and run in quickly rather than circle the block for a spot.
"I questioned myself, should I run out? Should I feed the meter?" Stolman said. "It was so cold yesterday, [so] I said you know what? I'm going to take the risk, I'm gonna finish up and run back out."
Obviously, a ticket writer was nearby — but so was the Lululemon staff, ready to step in and help.
The kind gesture was apparently part of Lululemon's #NoHumbug Challenge, which challenges employees and customers to do something kind for others through the holiday season.
The challenge, which started online, was such a great success that the company decided to give each store a lump sum of cash to do good in the community during the holiday season.
"It's a really fun thing that started with the hashtag and has taken on a life of its own," said Nina Gardner, area community manager for Lululemon.
Each Lululemon location was given the money Dec. 2, and it was up to employees to brainstorm what to do with it between then and Dec. 24.
In one instance, employees of a Lululemon store went into a hair salon and paid for every person's haircut; in another they went into a hospital and delivered a healthy lunch for all the doctors and nurses, Gardner said.
Stolman said she doesn't plan on taking the ticket help for granted.
"For me this is an opportunity to pay it forward," she said. "I'm brainstorming how to do it, but I definitely want to go out of my way to make somebody's holiday season special."