Good Neighbors

Cashier Gives Back To Community By Challenging Their Math Skills

The prize for a right answer is free groceries. But his idea is doing so much more.

When you walk into 'Lucky Candy,' a convenience store in the Bronx, NY, you'll see racks of candy bars and treats, fridges stocked with soda and rows of items for purchase behind the register. Pretty standard stuff.

What you might not expect is for the cheerful young cashier to ask you to solve a math problem.

But that might just happen, thanks to the guy behind the counter, Ahmed Alwan.

News 12 The Bronx interviewed Alwan about his challenge. @_itsmedyy

Alwan started quizzing shoppers on their math skills. If the person answers his question correctly, he gives them five seconds to grab anything in the store – all for free!

The 20-year-old college student has been sharing videos of his interactions on social media.

Since he started the challenge about two weeks ago, Alwan has gained 300,000 followers on TikTok and 17,000 on Instagram.

"All I wanted to do was to help people," Alwan told CNN. "But I wanted to make it fun. So I made a TikTok and chose a challenge, asking them a math question. It's a way to entertain and educate people in need while putting a smile on their face, too."

Those who answer the problems correctly rush around the store, filling their arms with as many items as possible, while Alwan does the five second countdown from the register. Past 'winners' have grabbed chips, drinks, a hookah – one person even tried to take his cat!

One thing is always the same – the contest winner's tab is always $0.

Alwan pays for the groceries out of his own pocket. For him, it's not about the money he's spending. The main goal of the challenge is to help his fellow community members save money for more costly expenses, like rent and utilities.

Alwan's dad, Saleh Aobad, is an immigrant from Yemen. He owns the store, and says he's proud of his son's charitable efforts.

"It's great to see him do good and help out the community, and most importantly represent Islam," Aobad said. "It's impacting the business in a positive way, bringing awareness and attention to the store as well as spreading positivity throughout the community."

This isn't the first time that Alwan has given back to his neighbors. He's been known to give his customers groceries on credit, and when he sees people sleeping outside near the train station, he offers them a hot cup of coffee and a bite to eat.

Thanks to Alwan's new popularity on social media, customers have been lining up outside of Lucky Candy for their own chance to play the game.

But, for Alwan, who's studying at Bronx College to be a pharmacist, it's not about the internet fame.

"This changed our relationship with the community big time," Alwan said. "They're all showing me so much love and lining up at the store just for a chance to play. We have so many visitors coming to take pictures and say hi." Still he's humble.

"It's not about me. It's about the community."

Alwan says he's going to continue his math challenge, but the problems might get a bit harder. He's also started a GoFundMe to help pay for the groceries and give small donations to those in need.

Alwan's hope, according to the GoFundMe page, is to "inspire others to always be kindhearted."

Sounds like he's well on his way to accomplishing his mission.

Click here to donate to Alwan's GoFundMe.

How can you start something good?

Feeling inspired by Alwan's incredible act of kindness? You might not own a convenience store where you can give away groceries, but you can help your community in other ways.

You can start a blanket drive to help keep people warm during the winter months, or you can do smaller acts of kindness, like leaving gift cards in public places for strangers to find.

Let's #StartSomethingGood together.

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