A police force in Alabama has been inundated with offers of food, money and clothing for a grandmother who was caught stealing a box of broken eggs for her starving family.
Helen Johnson, 47, stuffed five eggs in her pocket last Saturday after she discovered the $1.25 she had left to her name made her 50 cents shy of the price of the eggs.
“Of course when I put them in my jacket pocket they broke,” she told Al.com. “I’m not a very good thief.”
Before even making it out of the door, she had been stopped by staff and told the police had been called. But instead of arresting her, Tarrant police officer William Stacy talked to the supermarket’s officials, who said they would not press charges.
He then walked over to where Ms Johnson was waiting and presented her with a box-full of eggs.
“She started crying, she got very emotional, and was very apologetic,” Officer Stacy told Al.com. “She tried to give me the money she had on her, $1.25.”
“I felt like it was the right thing to do, I didn’t want to pass judgement on her,” he added.
Ms Johnson, who lives with her two daughters, a niece and two grandchildren aged 1 and 3, revealed to the policeman she had been desperate for the eggs as her family hadn’t eaten for two days. Her daughter’s $120 welfare cheque for the month had been lost in the post, and her disability money had not yet come through.
The exchange, in which she hugged the policeman after he presented her with the eggs, was caught on video by a passer-by, who posted it onto Facebook with the message “#feelgoodstoryoftheday”.
Now, Tarrant police force has been inundated by calls from people up and down America offering to donate food, money and clothes to the family who sleep on mattresses on the floor.
Police have had to set up a fund for the money pouring in for the Johnson family, while Stacey and other officers delivered bags of food to Ms Johnson on Wednesday.
“This woman’s getting plenty of food,” Tarrant Police chief Dennis Reno told Al.com. “She shouldn’t go hungry for a while."