How would you have reacted in a situation like this? Vote below!
Matthew Manley was on the way home from a St. Louis area hospital with his 5-year-old niece in tow when they were pulled over for a routine traffic stop. As soon as he saw the police car, Manley knew it was going to be bad. He had been putting off transferring over his new license plates, which was worth a citation.
“I knew I was in the wrong,” Manley told KTVI.
Manley had been driving his niece home from cancer treatment, as the 5-year-old was receiving chemotherapy every day. This only made a stressful situation worse, as after the officer wrote him a ticket, he went back to his car and opened the trunk.
It seemed like he was rummaging through it forever.
Nervous, Manley sent a message to his wife Dana.
“He texted me, scared to death,” Dana said.
But when Officer Shawn Birdsong returned, he was holding a pink backpack.
The backpack was for Manley’s niece, Birdsong explained, and he hoped this would help her feel just a bit better.
Inside were toys, clothes, some art supplies—and a note.
“From Officer Shawn: Hope you get to feeling better real soon!! C:”
When the Manleys saw the backpack and note, they immediately shared the story to Facebook, wanting to thank the officer for his actions.
“That meant the world,” Dana said.
The fact that he took the time to try to make one little girl’s day better was completely eye-opening for Dana. He could have just gone on with his job—which the family appreciated that he did, giving Manley a ticket for driving with old license plates—but he reminded everyone that we all have humanity and compassion regardless of our position.
After Dana shared the story online, praise poured in from thousands. It reached Birdsong himself, who called up the Manleys to thank them.
“It brought me to tears again,” Dana told KTVI.
“He’s called and checked on her 3 or 4 times since then,” she said. It was his job to give us a ticket. He did exactly what he was supposed to do. He just made this little girl’s day a little better, and that’s what matters.”
Birdsong had a backpack in the trunk of his car because he was one of the officers participating in Project Backpack St. Louis—an organization that puts together backpacks filled with necessities and comfort items for children.
Oftentimes, when kids are removed from their homes because of abuse, neglect, or natural disasters, they go empty-handed. To help these children, the organization puts together these backpack kits to hand to police, shelters, and other social service agencies so that they always have something to give to children who need it.