Woman’s viral post about buying a homeless man water in Florida heat is warming hearts across the country
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A Florida woman has apparently sparked a chain reaction of kindness, as a story she posted about helping a homeless man garnered reactions from nearly 175,000 strangers.
Barbara Mack took to Facebook July 21 where she explained how she bought a bottle of water for a man who was standing outside of a convenience store. The events immediately following had evidently led to multiple patrons showing the same courtesy to the 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 a 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)."
Woman’s viral post about buying a homeless man water in Florida heat is warming hearts across the country (Barbara Mack)
While Mack said the man was grateful for the exchange, one fellow customer inside was less than pleased.
"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, adding "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, an UberEats delivery driver, and Etsy shop owner, told FOX News that the heat index in Florida had reached over 100 degrees that day she visited the convenience store.
Mack said she stopped for a bottle of water after her deliveries and noticed the man standing outside near his bicycle.
"I’ve seen him around several times," Mack told FOX. "I’ve given him leftover food before, if I get a cancellation and have food leftovers in the car.
She went on, "He didn’t look good...like he was 10 seconds away from heatstroke."
Mack said she ran inside the store and grabbed a water for the man. The woman at the counter knew Mack as a regular, and allowed her to go outside first before she returned to pay, Mack said.
But Mack said that when she came 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 was 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 once the other customers heard her and the woman have words, one by one, each of them bought a food item 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."
Mack said she called a friend who encouraged her to share the moment in a Facebook post. A few days later, she has 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."
Others shared 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 said she’s glad her viral moment has been an inspiration to so many.
"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."
Mack said she’s considering starting a charity organization and, in the meantime, hopes everyone will continue paying it forward since "One dollar isn’t much for a bottle of water."