Wednesday, January 30, 2013

83 year old homeless veteran receives new boots from warmhearted police officer

EL PASO, Texas, The temperatures may have dropped below freezing Thursday night, but the warmest part in the city was created by the kind actions of one of El Paso's finest at the Lowe's Home Improvement store in far east El Paso.

Charles Holder is an 83-year-old homeless man. He wore a thin light jacket and torn sneakers when he was approached by an employee.

The employee, who wishes to remain anonymous, told KFOX14 that he went up to Charles and asked if he needed help, but Charles' words were difficult to understand.

The employee's boss appeared and again asked Charles if he was in need of help. Charles then turned and asked if he could stay in the building until they closed because he had nowhere else to go.

Charles hadn't eaten in days. The employee described Charles to be teary-eyed when he said that he was on a diet.

A nearby customer overheard the exchange and offered a $20 bill, but Charles refused.

The employee asked his supervisor if he could be removed from the register so that he could help Charles get something to eat. A co-worker began searching for a homeless shelter as the unnamed employee began gathering money for Charles' food with the help of other co-workers.

A shelter was found, but transportation was an issue. The employee called the non-emergency line for the El Paso Police Department for assistance, and they complied.

The image of Officer Jose Flores from the Pebble Hill Regional Command center was a sign of relief for the Lowe's employees, but for Charles, it looked like trouble.

"I am not harming anyone," Charles told one of the cashiers. "I don't want to go to jail or the hospital for being here. I'm just cold."

The employee said Flores approached Charles with respect and a warm-hearted attitude and asked him for his shoe size.

With tattered sneakers, Charles said that he didn't know; he just wore whatever he finds that fits.

Flores then purchased a pair of heavy-duty leather boots from the store. When Charles took them, Flores noticed that he was wearing one torn wet sock. Flores left and returned with a three-pair package of socks.

Teary-eyed and humbled, Charles said he didn't have any money to pay Flores back for his actions. Instead, he reached for a small plastic bag filled with treats. The Lowe's employee believed that may have been Charles' dinner.

This is the story told through the eyes of one employee who was taken aback by the police officer's actions, and it's a story that Charles won't soon forget.

"They helped me," Charles told KFOX14. "They're a great bunch of people; they're very humane."

Charles said he was very thankful for Flores' gift, and the boots were much warmer than the ones he had before. He was very thankful for the help he received that day.

"They believe in helping people, or somebody else," Charles said. "That's the way we gotta all be."

That kind of action isn't necessarily part of Flores' job description, but it was an action that Detective Mike Baranyay commends him for.

"In no way were Officer Flores' actions a requirement of his job but they are reflective of his sense of duty to serve others," Baranyay said. "We are proud to have Officer Flores as a member of our police department and hope that this simple act of kindness is appreciated for what it was -- one man helping another."
Flores chose not to comment on this event, and Baranyay said he didn't do it for the recognition.
"Officer Flores' intent was not to receive recognition for his actions last evening. His dedication to serving his community is something most Americans display when they see someone in need. Fortunately, his job as a police officer put him in a situation to show compassion for another human being who was in need of help," Baranyay said.