When British art student Dominique Harrison-Bentzen decided to help the homeless man who offered her his last bit of change to pay for a taxi, she never dreamed the story of her “homeless hero” would touch so many hearts — or raise so much money.
Harrison-Bentzen, a 22-year-old student at the University of Central Lancashire, told the Guardian she discovered she had lost her bank card when she went pay for a taxi home after a night on the town. She was approached by a homeless man, who offered her his last £3 — about $4.60 US — to pay for the taxi.
“He insisted I took it to pay for a taxi to make sure I got home safe,” she said. “I didn’t take the money, but I was touched by such a kind gesture from a man who faces ignorance every day. So I set out on a mission to find this man.”
After posting the story of her “homeless hero” on Facebook, Dominique began to hear about the man’s kind gestures toward others, including returning lost wallets to pedestrians and offering his scarf to keep people warm.
She located him four days later, according to the Daily Mail, and learned that the man, known only as Robbie, had been living on the streets of Preston in northern England for the past seven months.
“He has been homeless for 7 months through no fault of his own and needs to get back on his feet but cannot get work due to having no address. So that’s when I decided to change Robbie’s life and help him, as he has helped many others.”
Harrison-Bentzen started a fundraising campaign to help Robbie pay the deposit on an apartment, setting up a page on a crowd funding site and asking people to donate £3 — the amount Robbie tried to give her. She also pledged to spend 24 hours on the street to raise awareness for the homeless, and was soon joined in her pledge by supporters who had been touched by Robbie’s story.
The fundraiser went viral on social media, with the @help_robbie Twitter page gaining over 1000 followers worldwide, many of them tweeting their support.
@Help_Robbie this story touched my heart. I’ve Donated. Merry Xmas and a happy new year Robbie
— Claire Shaw (@ClaireShaw79) December 17, 2014
@Help_Robbie Was there anyone who said that angels do not exist??
— Belkin France (@BelkinFrance) December 17, 2014
Once the media picked up the story, donations poured in and the traffic on Robbie’s fundraiser page became so heavy it caused technical difficulties with the site.
As of Wednesday evening, £28,686 (more than $43,000 U.S.) had been donated for the “homeless hero,” and the deadline for the fundraiser has been extended until Thursday because so many who wanted to donate had not been able to access the crowd funding page to do so.
Part of the money will be used to get Robbie back on his feet and set him up in an apartment. The rest, Harrison-Bentzel says, will be donated to help other homeless people in Preston.
“With Robbie’s blessing, we want to help as many people as we can,” she said. “Robbie has already suggested some local charities within Preston who have helped not only him but others throughout their hardship.”
Dominique’s small gesture ended up raising a lot of money. But even providing the small things most of us take for granted count when it comes to helping those in need, such as this California woman who the Inquisitr reports converted a bus into a portable bathroom with showers for the homeless after hearing a young woman on the street crying because she wanted to be clean.