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Thursday, December 11, 2014

Police Officer Buys Eggs For Disabled Woman Caught Shoplifting To Feed Family, outpouring of wonderful support!

wonderful real life story for the holidays; updated below original post.

photo: Officer William Stacy with Helen Johnson after donated food was delivered to her. Stacy bought a carton of eggs for Johnson when she was caught stealing eggs from a store in Tarrant, Ala. Johnson says the act of kindness changed her life.

NPR article by Krishnadev Calamur | Dec 11, 2014

A 47-year-old woman was caught stealing eggs in Tarrant, Ala., over the weekend. But instead of arresting Helen Johnson, police officer William Stacy bought her a carton of eggs in exchange for a promise never to shoplift again.

That wasn't the end of it. The story garnered so much attention, that offers of donations of money, food and clothes poured in from around the world.

"The last time I saw my house this full, I was 12-years-old and staying with my grandmother," Johnson, herself a grandmother, told the Birmingham News. "I've been crying all day."

Here's more from the newspaper:

What a difference a week makes. Johnson's two daughters, a niece and two grandchildren, ages 1 and 3, live with her in their Tarrant home. The kids' mother gets a welfare check - $120 a month - but that check was lost in the mail. Johnson herself gets a disability check, which is set to come this week.

"By Saturday, the family had gone two days without food. Johnson went to Dollar General on Pinson Valley Parkway with $1.25 and thought that would be enough to buy a carton of eggs. When she realized she was 50 cents plus tax short, she stuffed five eggs in her pocket out of desperation."

Those eggs broke. "I'm not a good thief at all," she told the newspaper.

A store worker at the Dollar General called the police, bringing Stacy to the scene. She said she had expected him to handcuff her. Instead, he bought her a carton of eggs.

"I was like, 'Oh my God, thank you Jesus for this man,' " Johnson said. "He is my hero."

Stacy recalled his own childhood, telling the newspaper his mother had had trouble feeding his sister and him. And, he said, he'd been on a call to Johnson's home once before and had seen the condition in which she and her family lived.

"The story she told me Saturday matched up with what I had seen when I was there," he told the newspaper. "I felt like it was the right thing to do. I didn't want to pass judgment on her."

Someone filmed the encounter on his cellphone and posted it on Facebook with the hashtag #feelgoodstoryoftheday. The video went viral — and the food donations began pouring in.


UPDATED with wonderful report from CBS46 in Atlanta by Ronda Robinson | Dec 10, 2014

"I said, 'Oh my God I'm going to jail for eggs. My grandkids are not going to eat. What am I going to do?"

That's what Helen Johnson was thinking when she got caught stealing from the Dollar General on Pinson Valley Parkway on Saturday.

"They hadn't had anything to eat all day for three days," Johnson said.

Johnson said she was trying to take three eggs back her apartment where she lives with her two daughters, her niece and her two young grandkids.

Helen told FOX6 Reporter Ronda Robinson she only had $1.25 with her when she tried to slip the three eggs in her pocket.

Thinking back on things, she said she made a desperate but bad decision.
"I thought because I left the dollar and a quarter, it would make up for the three eggs," she said.
But before she left the store, she was caught. She told Tarrant Police Officer William Stacy what happened.

"I said, 'Yes sir, I came to get some eggs but I didn't have enough money.' I reached down into my pocket and came out with the eggs. They ran through my hands because they were cracked," she said.
Instead of arresting Helen, Officer Stacy bought the eggs for her. Meanwhile, a customer recorded the whole thing on a cell phone.

"Some of these people, they're just caught up in the wrong place at the wrong time and they don't necessarily mean the thing they do. You gotta help them out. We're there to help, to serve and protect. We're there to make a difference," Stacy said.

Helen wasn't expecting a second chance but says she's thankful. It's still hard for her to put into words how she feels about the whole experience.

"I just took three eggs. I know right from wrong. I just took three eggs from these people, you know that. I didn't know what to say," she said.

Tarrant Police Chief Dennis Reno says the police department has been overwhelmed by offers of support for Helen Johnson and her family ever since the story first aired.

"We've had calls from California, Iowa, Oregon, Canada, New York, Ohio and an email from Hawaii," Chief Reno said.

Food and household donations have been dropped off at the Tarrant Police Department for Johnson and other families in need.

Johnson said this is a second chance she does not take for granted.

"This is God. God is speaking to me. I've been through so much, I thought God had forgot about me," she said.

The Tarrant Police Department posted the following message about donations to the Johnson family on their Facebook page:
The Tarrant Police Department would like to thank everyone for the out pouring of kindness and generosity for the Johnson Family.

If anyone would like to send a monetary donation to Mrs. Johnson and her family please make checks payable to:
Tarrant Police Charity Fund
c/o The Johnson Family
Mailing Address:
Peoples First Federal Credit Union
1140 Ford Avenue
Tarrant, Al 35217

If you wish to make a food donation, or Christmas donation please contact Tarrant Police Department
2593 Commerce Circle
Tarrant, Al 35217

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