USA: Strangers being kind is a sign of innate goodness – By Mohamed Hamaludin

– BY MOHAMED HAMALUDIN

In this year of mounting racism, political divisiveness and crass callousness towards refugees, stories still abounded of the essential goodness of Americans, as reported from around the country.

Police Officer Michael Kelley, working security at a Cleveland, Tenn., Walmart, paid for the purchases of a father, young children in tow, after the man’s card was denied.  “The little girl’s face got me. Her eyes were welling up and it broke my heart,” Kelley said.

A Texas man  who purchased food and medication collapsed unconscious in in the store parking lot from a diabetic attack and awoke to find he had been robbed. An officer identified only as Koryciak bought him a fresh supply of medications and other essential items and $25 worth of food. Diabetes runs in her family, the officer said.    

In Pembroke Pines, an officer identified as Hernandez, part of a team responding to an emergency medical call involving an elderly couple, played Journey’s Don’t Stop Believin’ on the family’s piano to calm their distraught daughter.

Officer Robert Lofgran of the West Jordan Police Department in Utah babysat a woman’s three young children for hours to give her time to be interviewed by a victim advocate and file a domestic violence complaint.

Other stories told of kindness and selflessness often by strangers.

When motorist Byron Campbell saw smoke coming from an apartment building in Dallas, he drove up, went inside, knocked on doors and urged people to get out. Returning outside, he heard a woman yelling from a window that she had a baby. He shouted to her to drop the child and he caught the year-old girl.

After a television reporter posted online the story of Melena Johnson, of St. Louis, Missouri, homeless and living on the streets for over a year with a young son, it got more than 2.5 million views.  An anonymous person presented her with necessities, warm clothing and a box of groceries and paid for a hotel room for a week. Four other strangers showed up to give her food, supplies and money, including people who drove from Chicago and Philadelphia.

“I never thought that people on this earth loved me in these 40-something years,” Johnson said. “I don’t think I should think like that anymore when there is someone out there caring for me and they don’t even know me.”

In Texas, Evoni Williams, an 18-year-old waitress was working in a Waffle House in La Marque to save money for college when a 78-year-old man on oxygen came in and placed his order. Another diner heard the man tell Williams that he had problems using his hands and saw her promptly slice up his ham without being asked. After the diner posted the story, Texas Southern University offered Williams a $16,000 scholarship and Mayor Bobby Hocking declared March 8, 2018, Evoni “Nini” Williams Day.

In Westbrook, Maine, an anonymous donor sent School Superintendent Peter Lancia a $10,000 check towards paying down the school district’s $17,000 student lunch debts.

And customers of Donut City in Seal Beach, Calif., decided to buy donuts by the dozen instead of singly so the owner, John Chhan, could close up earlier than usual and spend more with his ailing his wife Stella.

Clara Daly, 15, used her sign language knowledge while on a six-hour Alaska Airlines flight to help fellow passenger Tim Cook, who was blind and deaf, communicate by forming letters with her fingers while he “read” them with his hands. She used fingerspelling once to get him water, then to tell him the time

“and the last hour of the flight to just talk to him.”

Passenger Lynette Scribner posted a photo of one such moment on Facebook, commenting, “There are still good, good people who are willing to look out for each other.”

Clara, of Calabasas, Calif., said the reaction on social media had been “overwhelmingly lovely,” adding, “I hope this helps other people realize that in the world we are living in, it is everyone’s duty to help each other out, no matter what.”

When a sudden rain and lightning storm forced Dulce Gonzalez and her 50 guests at her beach wedding to stay in their cars, a resident, Cynthia Strunk and her husband Shannon opened up her home to them and gave the couple a bottle of champagne and two glasses. “We didn’t think we were doing anything grand,” Strunk sad. “We were just helping some people out on the beach that needed help.”

And as Army Lt. Col. Robert Risdon, visiting a Taco Bell restaurant, two boys went up to him selling homemade dessert for their church. But they looked cold and hungry and after they told him they hadn’t eaten, he bought them tacos and drinks. Jason Gibson, a customer waiting in line, posted a video of the event which was viewed by almost three million people. “Our troops are always taking care of us. I heard the little one say ‘I want to be just like u when I grow up’ and saluted him,” Gibson said.

Said Risdon, “I can’t even count the number of times I was cold, wet and hungry in the Army.”

Mohamed Hamaludin is a Guyana-born journalist who  worked for several years at The Chronicle in the 1970s and on publications in the Cayman Islands and Turks and Caicos Islands before emigrating to the United States in 1984 where he worked at The Miami Times, the Miami Herald and the South Florida Times.  Though now retired, he writes a commentary every week or two for The South Florida Times (sfltimes.com) in which the above column first appeared. He may be reached at hamal1942@gmail.com.

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