Deputies take panhandler grocery shopping

Posted at 10:42 PM, Sep 25, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-25 22:42:22-04

Two Hillsborough County deputies showed their generosity recently by surprising a panhandler with a trip to Walmart.

"She was so thankful, she just kept thanking us," said Deputy Jessica Dillon, about the woman who was down on her luck and trying to provide for her family.

Dillon spotted her last week asking for money outside a Tampa Wawa. Her sign said "Please help. Need to feed family."

Deputy Dillon stopped and told her politely that she would need to move on because it's against county ordinance.

The woman said she wasn't aware and that this was her first time panhandling. The deputies left, but Dillon ran into her again later that night in the Wawa restroom.

"I went into the restroom and I overheard someone on the phone and I recognized her voice. She was talking to someone about how she didn't make enough for food," she recalled.

It was the same woman who was holding the heartfelt sign earlier in the day.

"We both immediately said we need to do something for this young lady," said Deputy Chris Rose, Dillon's partner.

They decided to take her grocery shopping at Walmart right next door.

They grabbed some meat, chicken, tacos -- just a few meals to provide for her kids.

"I told her I loved ravioli when I was a kid, so I told her to grab some of that," Dillon said.

The total? About $70 out of their own pockets.

In return, the deputies got a smile, a thank you, and somewhere in Tampa Bay, a happy family going through a rough patch in life.

"That was the most rewarding part, just a thank you is nice," Dillon said.