It takes just one act of kindness to trigger a chain reaction just like what happened after a Florida woman posted on social media how she helped a homeless man. Her post not only went viral but got thousands of likes and shares from nearly 175,000 strangers.
Barbara Mack shared on Facebook on July 21 about how she purchased a bottle of water for a man who was standing outside of a convenience store. That apparently led to many others showing kindness to the same man in what Mack called “a revolution.”
“I may have inadvertently started a revolution in the convenience store today,” Mack wrote on Facebook. “I stopped to grab water, and on the way in I saw a homeless man I know sitting in the shade with his bike beside him. He was red-faced and shaky-looking. I asked if he was ok, and he told me that he was just resting.”
“This guy’s got the mind of a child, and I’m afraid he doesn’t know he needs to stay extra hydrated when it’s super hot outside. 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).”
The man was grateful for the exchange, but it did not please a fellow customer inside the store. “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,” Mack wrote.
The lady added, “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.” Mack who works as an UberEats delivery driver, and an Etsy shop owner said that the temperature in Florida had reached over 100 degrees that day.
Mach said that she had seen the man around several times and that she had given him leftover food before if she got a cancellation and had food leftovers in the car. She said that the man wasn’t looking good and could have got a heatstroke.
That prompted her to get a water for the man and as the woman at the counter knew Mack as a regular, she allowed her to go outside first before paying, Mack said. But when she got back inside, one woman took issue with her good deed.
“I know it’s really hot and it does make people cranky and we were having to wait a long time,” she said. “There was one cashier. There were 10 people in line…it’s not the first time I’ve been accused of enabling the homeless but it was the first time something so wonderful happened in front of me and it was just amazing.”
Mack said that the customers who were there heard her and the other woman exchange words, and one by one, each of them bought food for the man outside. “Ice cream, a sandwich, somebody gave him money, a frozen candy bar and [other items],” Mack said of the purchases. “I kind of said [to the man], ‘Are you OK now?’ Then I drank my water in the car and went home.”
A friend encouraged her to share the moment in a Facebook post and in a few days, it got thousands of shares and it “snowballed” from there, she added. The post was shared 137,000 times and 23,000 users commented – some saying how they’ve helped others just as Mack said she did.
“My daughters brought a homeless guy a large KFC meal because they didn’t want to eat something knowing he was outside hungry,” one person wrote. “[They’re] 10 and 13.” There were many who shared about their own apparent struggles.
“Thank you for helping that dear man. My husband and I have been in shelters several times because we moved around,” one woman wrote.
“Barbara, my brother is homeless in Florida. That might have been him. Thank you,” said another.
Mack is grateful that she could inspire so many through one act of kindness. “I do believe people are mostly good,” she said. “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.”
Now Mack is thinking of starting a charity organization and hopes that people will continue pay it forward since “One dollar isn’t much for a bottle of water.”