When Tarrant, Alabama Police Officer William Stacy was called to the Dollar General store on Saturday, December 6, he wasn’t especially surprised. “We get shoplifting calls at Dollar General all the time,” he tells Yahoo Parenting. “Usually people are stealing things like makeup or phone chargers – not things they need to get by.”
So when Stacy arrived to find 47-year-old Helen Johnson stealing eggs to feed her two daughters, her niece, and two young grandkids, he knew this incident was different. Johnson explained to Stacy that her family hadn’t eaten since Thursday. So instead of making an arrest, the officer, 23, bought Johnson a carton of eggs. “When she mentioned the kids and said they were hungry, that’s when I knew I wanted to buy the eggs,” Stacy says. “No matter what financial situation kids are in, it’s not their fault they’re hungry.”
Johnson tried to give Stacy the $1.25 she had in her pocket for the eggs, which cost $1.75 plus tax, but instead he asked only for a promise she wouldn’t shoplift again. Johnson told local news AL.com that she was shocked by the officer’s good deed. “I was like ‘Oh my God, thank you Jesus for this man,” she said. “He is my hero.”
The act of kindness was caught on video by another customer, Robert Tripp, and posted to Facebook, where it was been viewed more than 966,000 times and has received more than 22,000 likes. It has been shared nearly 13,000 times.
After letting Johnson go home, Stacy says his Lieutenant helped her sign up for the Tarrant Fire Department’s Toy Drive, which provides Christmas toys and food for families at the holidays. By that Wednesday, when Stacy returned to work, donations from across the country started pouring in for the Johnson family – a response to the viral video, which Tripp labeled #feelgoodstoryoftheday. “It took an entire shift to take all the stuff to her house and unload it,” Stacy says of the afternoon he spent delivering groceries to the Johnsons . “I’ve taken three Tahoe loads of food to her house, and I know a food bank came to bring her food, and they also got a Christmas tree donated.”
Stacy says he’s hoping this story will inspire people to donate to other hungry families as well. “It’s a rought city to live in,” Stacy says of Tarrant. “There are a lot of people who need food.” Stacy says the Tarrant Police Department is using this opportunity to start a fund to help feed the community as a whole.
On Facebook, users are calling Stacy “an angel in disguise,” but the officer says he was just doing his job. “There’s a real trust issue between law enforcement and citizens right now, but hopefully this shows we are not robots who just want to arrest people,” Stacy says. “We have hearts – you have to have a big heart and clear conscience of mind to do this job.”
Stacy says he still can’t believe the attention the story has gotten, since he didn’t know the interaction was filmed in the first place. “I don’t see myself as a hero. I’m not a big fan of cameras and the spotlight, I just want to do my job, do it the right way, and spend time with friends and family.”
The officer doesn’t have kids of his own, but says his fiancée has a 6-year-old son. “I’ve known him since he was one and I consider him one of mine,” he says. “I know what it’s like to have kids, and it’s tough. It’s the holidays, and I’m glad I could help this family.”
For all the negative headlines surrounding police officers and community policing these days, it’s seriously refreshing when a situation like this comes along and allows us to restore a little bit of faith in humanity. Some presumably miserable person in Gainesville, Florida had the audacity to call the police for a noise complaint about kids playing basketball in the street recently, and the responding officer handled the call in the best way possible.
The person who called in the complaint must have been quite distraught when the officer showed up and — instead of being a jerk and shutting down the kids’ fun — joined in on the action, balling up with the them for about 10 minutes. In fact, even more kids came outside to play in the time that the cop was hanging around. Talk about your all-time backfires!
Eventually, the cop bows out and heads back to his cruiser, but not before lowering the rim and throwing down a dunk on the neighborhood kids. As he’s leaving, he asks the kids if they’re going to be playing around the same time the next day, as he plans on swinging by and bring some “backup” to get a game going.
Tyten Sparks had just finished a special breakfast Wednesday and was preparing to go on an adventure for his 10th birthday with his mom and brother when he heard a rumbling noise in the garage of his family’s Roy home.
When Tyten felt heat outside the garage door, he quickly ran upstairs to alert his mom, Jacque Sparks.
“The fact that he felt the door and came to me right away is what saved our lives,” said Sparks, who ran out of the house with Tyten, her younger son, Knixus, 6, and the family’s pets. “All the damage to the house was done in about five minutes.”
Fire officials believe a malfunctioning motor in a refrigerator in the family’s garage caused the fire that damaged nearly the Sparks’ entire home and made it uninhabitable.
Along with their car, clothes, furniture and personal belongings, the family also lost all of Tyten’s birthday presents and the $36 Tyten had saved for an upcoming trip to Disneyland with his grandparents.
“They were pretty distraught,” Roy fire chief Jason Poulsen told ABC News. “After talking with the mom to find out what happened with the fire, she told us it was Tyten’s birthday and all of his gifts were inside.”
Poulsen reached out to the local police chief, whose officers also responded to the fire at the Sparks’ home, to see what they could do to help Tyten. The officials credited the quick actions of Tyten, who had received fire training at school, with saving the lives of his mom and brother.
“The fire chief brought it up and the minute we put it forth to the officers they were all for it,” police chief Carl Marino told ABC News. “These are pretty amazing officers and I’m lucky to be the chief of this group.”
The police officers joined local firefighters in donating cash and gift cards. The Roy Fire Association also donated $100, according to Poulsen.
On Thursday, a group of firefighters and police officers reunited with the Sparks family at their home to surprise Tyten and his brother with the gifts.
“It made him so happy,” Sparks said of Tyten, who received the cash and gift cards in a special jar. “And they added some extra stuff for my youngest son so he wasn’t feeling left out … the generosity has been absolutely amazing.”
The police officers and firefighters gave the brothers more than $250 in cash, Target and Toys ‘R’ Us gift cards and a $100 grocery store gift card for the family, Sparks said.
The message from the firefighters to Tyten was, “Good job taking care of your family. You did exactly what you were supposed to do,” according to Poulsen.