Neal Shytles is homeless and says that the holidays are a particularly lonely time for him. So he posted a “wanted” ad on a local TV station’s Facebook page looking for someone to take him in for the holiday.
According to HLNTV, the Norfolk, Virginia, man was a cab driver for 15 years but lost his job last year and things just went downhill for him — he used up his savings and was forced to move into the Union Mission homeless shelter, where he rents a bed with his small Social Security pension.
“I was one of these people that never thought I would be here,” he said.
Neal grew up in the area, but said that he no longer has any family nearby.
“I am lonely, like, 365 days a year,” he told WKTR. “But Christmas and Thanksgiving are two of the worst days and I really miss having some kind of a family atmosphere around me.”
Neal said he is grateful for the meals at the shelter and any assistance he gets, but what he really wanted most of all was not to be alone for Thanksgiving.
“It would mean so much, because you know like I said, I’m lonely and it`s just forming that relationship with somebody would be so important to me. It would mean so much and I would really cherish it.”
Last week, he put a post titled “Wanted: A family to share Thanksgiving with” on WKTR’s Facebook page, asking someone — anyone — to take him in for the holiday.
After the station aired an interview with Shytles and posted it on their page, viewers responded in a big way — the station received dozens of emails and over 100 comments on the post, many from people who offered to have him over for dinner — and one generous woman who offered to make him a part of her family.
“I would love to have him as a part of my family fulltime not just for Thanksgiving, everyone deserves to have a family and be loved by someone!” she posted. “News Channel 3 please help me contact him, please!”
Another woman suggested that the TV station arrange a “meet and greet” with other residents of the homeless shelter and people, like herself, who would be willing to share their holiday dinners with them.
Shytles found a family — A military couple from Newport News, the McLemore’s will be sharing their holiday celebration with him.
“Because we’ve been military and I identify with having to be away from your family and not having family around for the holidays so it kind of struck a chord with me,” Ashley McLemore said.
McLemore got in touch with him through calling the Union Mission in Norfolk, and it was an emotional moment for both of them.
“He started crying and then I started crying and we were both crying,” she said.
Neal later posted a thank you on the Facebook page to everyone who responded to his request and especially to the woman who suggested others share their Thanksgiving with one of the homeless shelter residents, saying there were others who would be grateful for the company and a meal on the holiday.
“Please inbox me if you are interested in taking in someone. I assure you these guys are good guys. I will not send anyone out that I am not comfortable with. So please find it in your heart and home to host one of these guys for Thanksgiving.”
Thanks to this family, a man got his Thanksgiving wish. Their kind gesture, and those of others — such as the “Sandwich Man,” who the Inquisitr reported spends his evenings driving around Minneapolis handing out food to the homeless — can mean a lot to a good person like Neal who is down on his luck, especially during the holidays.
[Images via WKTR]