Mark Chalifoux got a text from a family he didn't know. But he didn't want to disappoint anyone, so when they asked him to send a care package to a deploying soldier, he raised more than $1,400 and chipped in 3,000 cookies.
CINCINNATI – Mark Chalifoux never thought that a wrong-number text message could generate so much support from so many strangers.
But Chalifoux turned an innocent mistake into a mission to give.
It started when he received an unexpected group text.
"I didn't want to just say, ‘You have the wrong number. You're dumb.’ I wanted to be gentle about it," he said.
So he casually responded to the group text, hoping they'd realize the mistake.
But instead, their response was: "because you're family."
"I was like, ‘OK, they're clearly not picking up on it,’" Chalifoux said.
Weeks later, another message - a picture of a group of soldiers and an address to send care packages as they prepared for deployment.
"At this point I don't know who they think I am that they're texting, but I don't want to let that guy down. I don't want that guy to look bad," Chalifoux said.
"Let's see if we can send an obscene amount of something just to show there are a bunch of strangers you don't know that are still thinking about you and pulling for you," Chalifoux said.
He set up a GoFundMe page to collect donations to help buy the cookies, and the support quickly poured in.
"If you think about any of this more a couple minutes, it's pretty ridiculous. It's a silly thing to do,” Chalifoux said.
“But it’s been impressive to see how many people have chipped and donated along the way."
So far more than 110 people have donated $1,400 - far exceeding the original $1,000 goal.
But more money just means more cookies.
"Hopefully he likes cookies. Hopefully he shares the cookies because it's borderline unhealthy at this point," Chalifoux said.
He plans to ship the cookies out next week and will keep taking donations until then.
Meanwhile, the soldier’s family has no idea this is happening. As for the soldier, he'll eventually be clued into it all.
“I’m going to tell him, ‘I’m a total stranger. We don’t know each other. Your family doesn’t text that good.’ That’s kind of the crux of it, Chalifoux said.