Homeless Man Runs Newspaper Ad for Thanksgiving Adoption, Gets More Than He Bargained For

April 5, 2019 Updated: April 10, 2019

Thanksgiving is that special time where we gather with family to enjoy a festive dinner. But for one homeless man, this used to be one of the hardest days of the year, until he published an advertisement to ask for a Thanksgiving adoption.

Neal Shytles, of Norfolk, Virginia, had never thought Thanksgiving Day would end up being one of the loneliest days for him, until he lost his job as a taxi driver and ended up at the Union Mission Ministries men’s shelter.

A homeless man’s wish to spend Thanksgiving with a family instead of at a shelter in Virginia has come true. "It hurts…

Posted by KTLA 5 News on Friday, November 21, 2014

Having stayed there for over a year, he was in need of a “family atmosphere,” and decided to create a personal advertisement titled, “Wanted: A family to share Thanksgiving with.”

“I didn’t have a whole lot of Facebook friends and I was trying to think of places where people would see it,” Shytles told ABC News in November 2014. “So I posted the ad on a few Facebook pages of news sites in the area.”

"It hurts me to be alone,” Neal Shytles told WTKR earlier this week. Read KTLA's story here: http://ktlane.ws/1r5y2yf

Posted by KTLA 5 News on Friday, November 21, 2014

Soon, NewsChannel 3 shared his story and people from across the country started responding to his simple request.

The first person who responded was a 7th-grade English teacher, Ashley McLemore.

“In the teaser was the quote that said ‘I’m lonely 365 days a year,’ which absolutely broke my heart,” McLemore said. “I called my husband and asked if he would mind having him with us for Thanksgiving.”

Ashley McLemore and her husband Cory, reached out to Shytles and offered to take him to their home for Thanksgiving. Read KTLA's story here: http://ktlane.ws/1r5y2yf

Posted by KTLA 5 News on Friday, November 21, 2014

McLemore and her husband, Cory, are from a military family and understand what it feels like to be alone on holidays.

“Because we’ve been military and I identify with having to be away from your family and not having family around for the holidays so it kind of struck a chord with me,” McLemore told NewsChannel 3.

Neil Shytles shows a camera crew around the shelter where he's been staying for a year and a half.

Posted by KTLA 5 News on Friday, November 21, 2014

On Thanksgiving morning, the couple picked Shytles up from the shelter and took him to their home to spend the day and enjoy a Thanksgiving meal together.

Shytles even received a surprise from Cory’s co-workers.

Posted by Ashley Neal Mclemore on Wednesday, February 15, 2017

“They have actually donated $400 directly to you. And this was done in two days. They did everything they could to help you out,” Cory told him.

“You didn’t have to do this. I just wanted a meal,” said an emotional Shytles.

“That’s all I ever wanted in life,” Shytles told ABC News. “I didn’t ask for money. For me, it was never about the riches. I want something to take away the loneliness, where I can love people and they love me back.”

A little bit of warmth can make all the difference. Hopefully, the kindness extended to Shytles will stay with him for a long time to come.

Watch the video below: