It’s never easy living in poverty, and when one loving Mom had to make the choice between stealing food or letting her kids go hungry, she attempted to take five eggs from a local store, but was caught. When officer William Stacy arrived on the scene and heard her story, he felt compassion for her and instead of punishing her, he decided to make a difference.
That day he decided to buy the eggs for her and to give her, Mrs. Johnson, a hug.
Mrs. Johnson feeds her two daughters, niece and two grandchildren, ages 1 and 3 with only $120 a month.
However, last week her pay was lost, leaving the Johnsons on the brink of starvation.
By Saturday, the family had not eaten for two days, so Johnson went to the local Dollar General with only $1.25 to try and buy eggs.
To her despair she found herself 50 cents short of being able to buy the eggs, and put five eggs into her pockets.
At the time it may not have seemed that way, but fortuitously the eggs broke in her pocket.
“I am not a good thief at all,” Mrs. Johnson said.
She was stopped by store staff as she tried to leave with the egg whites and yolks dripping from her jacket pocket, and immediately Johnson admitted that she had stolen them to feed her family.
The store had already called the police and when Officer William arrived, he told her to stay where she was while he talked with the store owners.
They decided together not to press charges against Mrs. Johnson, but when they went to speak to the grandmother in tears, she expected handcuffs to be brought.
“She started crying, she got very emotional and was very apologetic,” Officer William said. “She tried to give me the money she had on her, $1.25.”
William explained to her that she was not going to be arrested. He remembered her from a prior visit to her house and recalled how poverty stricken she was. Her family all sleeps on mattresses on the floor.
“The story she told me Saturday matched up with what I had seen when I was there,” said officer William.
“I felt like it was the right thing to do. I didn’t want to pass judgment on her.”
He bought her a carton of eggs and when Johnson asked Stacy how she could repay him, he simply asked her never to shoplift again.
“I hope she won’t do it again. I pray she doesn’t, and I don’t think she will,” said William.
Just before she got into her car, Johnson turned to hug Stacy and unknown to them, the moment was captured on cellphone by Robert ‘Dollar’ Tripp who posted it to Facebook with the hashtag, ‘feelgoodstoryoftheday’.
Then wanting to help her more, that week William and some colleagues showed up at the woman’s house with two truckloads worth of food for her and her family.
“The last time I saw my house this full, I was 12-years-old and staying with my grandmother,” said Mrs. Johnson. “I’ve been crying all day.”
Afterwards the officers decided to setup a fund at People’s First Federal Credit Union so that Mrs. Johnson could receive donations, which after this story went viral began pouring in. William’s police chief said that they’ve been receiving calls from across the U.S. and the world thanking them and offering to donate money, food and clothing to Mrs. Johnson as well.
“This woman’s getting plenty of food,” the chief said. “She shouldn’t be hungry for a while.”
With the recent rise in awareness of the high amount of police brutality towards African Americans, Officer William wanted to show compassion and to prove that there are still good law enforcement officers too.
Various studies have shown that living in poverty drastically increases the rate of crime, as people who are desperate will do desperate things to survive. The answer to solving many of the issues we face in society does not have to do with stricter punishment, but has to do with showing compassion through understanding of the other’s situation, and doing our best to elevate them out of poverty. When poverty is removed, the large majority of crime is too.
If you notice someone struggling to eat in your community this week, try to lend them a hand; buy them some food, share a hug, and show some compassion. You just might be the answer to their prayer.