Upon meeting an elderly woman standing alone on a busy Idaho street asking strangers for a ride to her favorite eatery, two men decided to help her out. When they learned it was her 80th birthday, they went one step further, treating her to breakfast themselves.
Benjamin Whiteleather, 38, of Boise, Idaho, told The Epoch Times that he and his longtime friend Matthew Peppersack were on their way back to work when they saw Zoe.
“She was standing on the busy street, waving cars down. Not one stopped,” Whiteleather said. “I looked at Matt. I told him she may need help. That’s when we met Zoe.”
Zoe told the men that she had been walking before her body “froze up,” and she couldn’t move anymore. She wanted to go to a Shari’s restaurant for her birthday breakfast. Without hesitation, Whiteleather and Peppersack helped her into their truck.
But they did more than drop her off.
“We joined her for breakfast and coffee, asking if we could sit with her,” Whiteleather said. “We listened to her story. She is alone, no family here, no car, and no support.”
The friends kept the lonely birthday girl company for about an hour before paying for her breakfast, each leaving an extra $20 bill for Zoe.
Before the trio parted ways, Zoe told her new friends that she was having a party at a local venue that night. Sadly, neither Whiteleather nor Peppersack could make it, but they shared Zoe’s story and her invitation to “anyone and everyone” on a local social media page, in hopes of rallying some support for the friendly octogenarian.
Hundreds of comments poured in.
“Reflecting back, I’m just happy she didn’t spend [her birthday] alone,” Whiteleather told The Epoch Times. “Zoe was amazed at our actions. She was so grateful and full of so many stories, she really was an amazing woman.”
He said he hasn’t seen Zoe or heard about her since then.
“I can only hope my message reached out. Life is about servitude, and helping others when we can.”
Whiteleather, who was adopted from Colombia in 1985, is a handyman business owner by day and bartender by night. He said he and Peppersack have been friends for years, are both proud fathers, and share a common interest in serving the community that raised them.
“We try to help our community as much as possible, [from] helping people on fixed incomes to moving battered women and children for free,” Whiteleather said. “Looking out for our community, our children, and our elderly, we just try to offer positivity.
“We both struggled to get where we are, and I know personally I could not have done it without the help of others. Therefore, I just pay it forward.”
Whiteleather was personally hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, losing his house, business, and close friends in 2021 alone. Yet watching his 14-year-old son grow into “an amazing young man,” he’s reminded of what matters most.
That day outside the Department of Motor Vehicles, Zoe mattered.
“I know how lonely this year was for so many,” he said. “I just wanted [Zoe] to feel loved and wanted. It wasn’t an act of kindness in my eyes, it was just being a human showing compassion and love for others.”