Sometimes all it takes to change someone’s life is a helping hand from a stranger.
That’s what one woman learned last month, when she went to buy some fast food—and ended up saving a life.
Katy Hurst from Independence, Missouri was in the drive-thru of her local Burger King, buying food for her young kids. But as she passed by the restaurant’s window, she saw someone who appeared to be breaking down in tears.
She realized she had seen him before—he was a homeless man.
“I saw him crying, he broke down, and I didn’t know who this person was,” Hurst told KSHB. “I had seen him through the community. He used to have a bike with a cart.”
It was such a tragic, striking sight that Hurst had to stop and take a photo.
She posted the photo to a local Facebook group, hoping someone would recognize him and be able to help.
“Does anyone know anything about this man?” she wrote, explaining how she found him. “I witnessed him break down into sobbing tears.”
But she knew she had to do more—and help the man out herself.
Hurst dropped her kids at home, and went back to the Burger King. The man was still there, crying. She sat down with him, and learned his story.
His name was Pops. In addition to being homeless, he was having a particularly rough time lately—even suffering a broken collarbone and ribs after being beaten up.
“I was lonely,” Pops recalled to KMBC.
“I was sad. I had one bad time after the next.”
Hurst was heartbroken by Pops’ story—especially that he seemed to be destitute and giving up on life. She knew she had to intervene.
“He said, ‘I just want it to end. I just want to go,’” she told KSHB.
“That’s when I told him, ‘Today is not the day.’”
Hurst invited him back to her home, where he was offered a meal—a kind gesture Pops eagerly accepted. Even something as simple as a peanut butter and jelly sandwich meant the world to him.
“One of my favorites,” he told KMBC.
Hurst even prepared a room for him to stay over—a little bit of home he had been missing for years.
But Hurst knew she could only do so much on her own—to really get Pops back on his feet and in the right direction, she would need the whole community to get involved.
She started a crowdfunding page to raise money for him and sent him to the hospital to heal.
“This is Pops! He’s a sweet man down on his luck,” Hurst wrote. “He currently lives in a homeless community where he’s been robbed and beaten several times. Pops needs our help to show him that this world is still full of good people!”
Amazingly, people came through—the page passed its goal of $5,000.
Even the Burger King where they met got involved and started accepting donations.
But people did more than donate money.
People from the community began to help in their own ways, by volunteering goods and services. For instance, a woman named Pamela Denson stepped up to offer Pops a much-needed haircut.
“I saw the frailest tiny man I’ve ever seen,” Denson recalled to KSHB. “I asked him, ‘Pops, is it okay if I cut your hair? Do you mind?’ He said, ‘No, I really need it.’”
Denson was also struck by the man’s kind demeanor.
“He was very nice and a soft-spoken gentleman,” she said. “He said all he did was pray. The only way he knew how to ask for help was to pray.”
Pops hopes the people who get to know him take away a lesson about the homeless community.
“I just hope they’ll look at people that are homeless in maybe a different light,” Pops told KMBC. “We’re not bad people.”
Likewise, Hurst hopes that this shows how far a little kindness can go—and that we all need a helping hand sometimes.
“He needed somebody to step in and help him,” she told KSHB. “That’s what I did.”