The following article, Woman Says She Sparked Chain of Kindness After Buying Homeless Man Water on Dangerously Hot Day, was first published on Flag And Cross.
Many times, stories of heroes and good Samaritans involve great feats of bravery or generous stacks of cash — but those aren’t everyday occurrences.
It’s the little actions, the small, common kindnesses that are sustainable and repeatable that everyone can participate in and collectively make a huge difference.
Take, for instance, providing someone with a drink of water: A basic act of humanity, perhaps, but important enough that Jesus even mentioned it.
Barbara Mack from Florida is someone who sees the common needs of people and does what she can to provide for them. Based on what she’s posted on Facebook, she doesn’t have much — but what she does have, she’s happy to share.
“I may have inadvertently started a revolution in the convenience store today,” she posted on July 20. Based on the reaction that post has gotten, the revolution has spread.
It started when Mack, who delivers food through Uber Eats, spotted a familiar homeless man when she stopped at a convenience store. It was summertime in Florida, and she immediately saw that he was struggling with the heat.
“I’ve seen him around several times,” she told Fox News. “I’ve given him leftover food before, if I get a cancellation and have food leftovers in the car. He didn’t look good … like he was 10 seconds away from heatstroke.”
In one of her posts, Mack explained that though the man has been placed in homes twice and has a social worker who helps him with his monthly stipend, he prefers the outdoors. She also said he has “the mind of a child,” and she was concerned that he “doesn’t know he needs to stay extra hydrated when it’s super hot outside.”
She’d already purchased herself a water bottle, but as soon as she saw the man’s state, she turned around and went back inside, compelled by his immediate need for hydration.
“There were a bunch of people in line in front of me and only one cashier, so I grabbed two waters and yelled to the cashier that I was taking one to the guy outside and I’d be right back (I’m a regular there),” she continued.
“When I came back in, the lady in front of me turned around, hands on hips, and told me that I was just enabling that ‘homeless person’ (said with a sneer) and that I shouldn’t be wasting my money on him.
“It’s hot as hell in Florida right now. Mid nineties with humidity around 80%. It’s a good day for heat stroke, and I told her so. I said I’d rather give him a water than call an ambulance. I was gonna shrug it off. Let it go. Chalk it up to ignorance and the heat making everybody cranky.
“And then she told me I should be ashamed of myself. That someone should call the police on him, and that it should be illegal to beg for money. That people who give the homeless money just encourage them to stay homeless and that should be illegal, too.
“Ashamed. I should be ashamed for giving some poor old guy a water – it cost a whole dollar, BTW – and I should get in trouble for making sure he didn’t stroke out in this heat.”
She launched into some real talk, telling the woman to back off and have compassion with some language as strong as her position sprinkled in. The store was witness to the speech, and at the end, someone said, “For real!”
Then someone else bought a sandwich for the man. And then someone got him an ice cream. Another person cashed out $20 to give him. The cashier gave Mack the waters for free.
“When I went outside, he was eating his ice cream and drinking his water with a pile of stuff all around him, a big old grin on his face,” Mack wrote of the homeless man. “He didn’t look shaky anymore.”
Her story has resonated with thousands of people, and her original post sits at over 175,000 reactions and 139,000 shares.
Since then, people have reached out to offer donations for her care-for-the-homeless fund. Others have even reached out to start a GoFundMe to help her with her living arrangements, as the pandemic has reportedly done a number on her livelihood (making jewelry and sculpting), and she lives in a camper that needs work.
The generosity has spread far beyond that little convenience store — and all because of some water and a snide remark.
“I do believe people are mostly good,” Mack told Fox. “I think sometimes we all need a reminder not to be selfish. I don’t have it in me to walk past people who need help. I’m not saying I’m a saint because I’m certainly not.
“I have a lot of empathy … I’ve had hard times myself. People have tried to help me, and I pay it forward.”
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.