Three teens helped a homeless man they saw struggling to pay for dinner at a Corpus Christi, Texas, Chick-fil-A, then served up a second helping of generosity, creating a new friendship.
Friends Ryan Cook, Joshua Mechell, and Alberto Montiel decided to help a stranger pay for his dinner last Thursday evening. Eddie, a local homeless man, was struggling to buy a meal for his dog. According to KRISTV, employees of the restaurant knew Eddie well. They told the teens that he never asked for things. “The money he receives and the food that he gets, he doesn’t give it to himself first. He gives it to his dog, Socks,” Montiel reported.
Cook later told Inside Edition that when they saw Eddie crying they “decided to go buy him a gift card” so Eddie could purchase a meal of his choice.
But their generosity did not stop there. The teens asked Eddie to wait at the restaurant while they grabbed a surprise. They came back after a trip to a nearby Dick’s Sporting Goods and blessed Eddie with another round of giving. The store chipped in $20 for the gift and helped by providing display merchandise to stretch their purchase even further. The teens ended up gifting Eddie with a new coat, several shirts, a warm hat, and a first aid kit.
The video of Eddie receiving the gift was posted to Facebook on Friday and already has over 10 million views. The group was reluctant to share the video, not looking to draw attention to themselves, but Cook’s mother suggested they reconsider. “My mom actually told me to [share it]. Basically to show and be examples to other people.” He ended up sharing the video “in an effort to inspire others to do the same for those in need.” Mechell added, “We just want to make the world a better place to live in, and we want to inspire people to make a difference.” Cook summarized the experience, saying that by sharing the video he hoped to “lead by example.”
Eddie’s reaction to the gifts warmed the hearts of the givers as well. “He quickly got out of his chair. He was so excited to see something new in his life. … His reaction was basically priceless. Once we gave him that jacket he had a big ole smile on his face and it was just probably one of the greatest feelings I’ve had … to know that we did something for somebody else,” Cook said.
The young men recounted that Eddie was especially touched by the gifts because he had not received any Christmas gifts this past year. Cook told him to think of the night as a “late Christmas.” The group has kept in touch with Eddie since that night and plans to continue helping him in the future. For Super Bowl Sunday they intend to treat Eddie to a night at a hotel and a meal.
Cook is happy with the attention this story is getting and hopes it serves to spur others on to helping those around them. “It was great to see [the] responses we were getting because I didn’t realize it’d blow up to be that big,” he commented. His conclusion about the reactions of others: “I didn’t realize love could be that big.”
Their thoughtful gifts not only impacted one man, but also taught these teens how great of an impact caring for others can have. “Be grateful for what you have and help others” is the charge of Montiel.
Watch the video yourself, and then go out and find your own Eddie to help. Take the example of these young men and go help someone in your own neighborhood and keep the challenge going.