It’s always heartwarming when a community is so moved by the struggles of one of their own that they’re compelled to step in, lending support whatever way they can. In one recent case, an 80-year-old Mississippi man named Kenneth Smith was on the receiving end of that love and support, when neighbors came to his aid after his wife’s passing in an incredible way.
According to Mississippi’s Sun Herald, Smith had been selling kindling on the side of the road in his hometown of Gulfport ever since his wife’s cancer diagnosis, in order to help pay for her medical bills. Each and every day, he would be out there for hours trying to make ends meet.
Sadly, Smith’s wife Helen lost her battle with cancer a few weeks ago; but he continued fighting the fight. And that did not go unnoticed among his neighbors.
“My heart breaks every time I pass him. He waves at every single car that passes,” wrote fellow Gulfport resident Jessica Pittman on Facebook last month. “Friday I was at the stop sign as a funeral procession was passing by. And he was standing alert with his straw hat over his heart. Precious man.”
But her compassion didn’t just end there. Pittman took matters into her own hands, snapping a few pics of Smith selling kindling and posting a call out on Facebook, asking others to come out and donate money, too.
And boy, did it work.
Pittman’s post quickly went viral, with over 9,000 shares, 4,000 likes, and hundreds of supportive comments flowing in so far. But the outpouring of emotion didn’t just happen on Facebook; it also brought lots of caring people to the spot where Smith was selling kindling, with cars stopping almost every minute to greet him.
And it didn’t just end there: So many people wanted to donate to the cause that Smith’s family even set up a Go Fund Me account, which has since raised over $100,000! (A sizable amount compared to their original $60,000 goal.)
As for Smith, he says he’s beyond grateful for all of the support, and seems to be shocked by the outpouring of generosity.
“I appreciate it,” he told the Sun Herald, “but I didn’t come out here to be a panhandler.”
What a sweet and humble man. We wish you all the best, Kenneth Smith.