It has been a few months since Christmas time, but there is never a bad time to talk about good people or the generous things they do. One afternoon in December 2015, the North Port Police Department in Florida decided to reward good deeds instead of punishing bad ones.
For several weeks, officers had been surprising people with Christmas gifts as a part of “Operation Santa Surprise.” Their next plan was to reward people who went out of their way to help a stranger in need.
To set the scene, they enlisted the help of 89-year-old world war two veteran Bill Greenham. Greenham’s job was to lure in the unsuspecting beneficiaries of the officers generosity.
In order to do so, he would walk out of the Wal-Mart like usual, except when he saw people approaching he would drop a few of the items in his bag. To any passersby, they would see an older man with a cane needing to pick up a few oranges. But would they stop to help?
As Melissa Whittington and her stepson Phillip were entering the store, they noticed Greenham attempting to pick up his fallen fruit. Immediately, they ran to his aid.
Before the officers and other crew members had a chance to surprise Whittingham, however, she had struck up a conversation with Greenham. It just so happened to be Phillip’s ninth birthday that day.
Unfortunately, while talking with Greenham, she began to choke back tears as she explained, “Believe it or not, we don’t even have one present for him for his birthday.” Rather, she had taken him to get his glasses fixed instead.
Hugging Whittingham, Greenham can be heard saying, “Come here. That’s okay.” Meanwhile, police officers and other volunteers are scrambling through the store to find a few gifts and wrap them.
Leaving the store, the officers presented Phillip with a scooter and a helmet. “I’m shocked. I’m amazed that people are so generous at this time of year,” Whittington exclaimed through more tears of thankfulness.
Needless to say, there were few dry eyes in attendance. “Believe it or not, a lot of police officers are softies too and you can’t help but get choked up when anybody is crying but they’re tears of joy,” police spokesman Josh Taylor said.
In total, North Port police helped 15 families that day by giving them toys and other presents as a response to their willingness to help a stranger. Despite the joy they bring, it is not about the gifts received, however.
Just ask Mr. Greenham who has seen his fair share of joy and sorrow. He said, “Everybody just prays for each other and helps each other through life; that’s all you want.”
-When the mom and her step-son saw the old man lose his groceries on the sidewalk, without hesitation she stopped to help.
But after a few moments, she quickly realizes it was all a trick… and she’s moved to tears!