When most people see a panhandler standing in a parking lot holding a cardboard sign, they pass by without giving them a second glance. Chances are, the sign says something along the lines of “Hungry, need food.”
So when Texas resident Wilma Price saw a man standing in the parking lot of a Walmart in Huntsville, she initially didn’t pay much attention. But once she got a closer look at the sign, she didn’t have it in herself to walk past without at least getting some more information.
“I looked at him and I couldn’t get over it,” she recalled. “He looked like a little boy standing there lost.”
Here’s what she learned: The man’s name was Patrick, and he’d recently spent a couple days in jail on a trespassing charge. Meanwhile, his dog, Fred Frederick, was impounded and listed as a stray. And, Patrick told her, he was “not leaving this town until I get my dog.”
But getting Fred back came at a hefty price. Patrick was soliciting donations to cover the $120 fee, which included a $35 impoundment fine and all the costs associated with vaccinations and flea and heartworm medication. At the time, Wilma only had $8, so she gave him her card and said she’d do some digging around.
When Wilma got home, she called the shelter to verify Patrick’s story, then a close friend, who agreed to donate to the cause.
Within two hours of their initial meeting, Wilma and Patrick arrived at the shelter together, cash in hand. When Patrick and Fred finally reunited, Wilma wrote in a Facebook post, Patrick’s eyes welled with tears, and Fred was literally shaking with happiness.
Patrick was so grateful for her help, he even offered to give her the money he’d been able to collect that day. But she wouldn’t accept it, instead hoping he would use it to buy himself and his furry buddy a meal that night.
The lesson here is don’t judge a book by their covers. That’s the whole thing. We’re in such a judgmental world. Everybody deserves a chance — you never know, in the blink of an eye that could be you.
It just took two hours for all this to come together, and it’s all thanks to Wilma taking the time to read that sign and help, even with only $8 to her name.
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