Sunday, December 14, 2014

Shoplifting grandma thanks policeman

Meet Helen Johnson, a 47-year-old grandmother from Tarrant, Alabama. She lives with two daughters, two grandchildren and a niece on disability and welfare. This month her disability check got lost in the mail. She went to Dollar General with her last $1.25, hoping to buy eggs, but she was fifty cents short. Her grandkids had not eaten for two days, and she thought they might die unless she fed them, so she stole five eggs, putting them in her pocket. But they broke, and a store clerk called the police when Johnson admitted stealing them. When officer William Stacy arrived, she expected to be arrested. She started crying. She offered her last $1.25 to pay for the broken eggs. Officer Stacy told her to park on the side of the parking lot and wait. Then he went inside the store and bought her a dozen eggs. When he handed them to her, she became very emotional. A bystander named Robert Tripp caught the kind deed on camera and posted it to Facebook with the hashtag #feelgoodstoryof the day.  It went viral, racking up more than 650,000 views.

The next day, Tarrant Police had to bring in an extra dispatch officer to handle a stream of calls from across America offering donations. Officers set up a fund at People's First Federal Credit Union in Tarrant to hold all the money pouring in for the Johnson family. One man from New York who called with a donation admitted he'd hated police for several months, but this incident totally changed his mind.

A few days after the egg incident, Officer Stacy and some colleagues arrived at Johnson's home with two truckloads of donated food, enough to keep her family fed through Christmas. When she saw the food, plus clothing and Christmas gifts for the kids, Johnson broke down. "I just busted out and started hollering," she said. "I would have been a good cheerleader." She says her life has been changed forever because of Officer Stacy. "This was not food," she said. "This was manna from heaven."

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