After catching a woman stealing eggs to feed her family, a compassionate Alabama police officer touched the hearts of people worldwide.

At a time when discussions on police are constantly in the news, an officer from Tarrant, Alabama grabbed the country’s attention with his incredible act of compassion.

A Needy Alabama Woman Acts in Desperation


Called to the scene by employees of the Dollar General store, police officer William Stacy confronted Helen Johnson, a 47-year-old woman caught pocketing a few eggs and trying to leave the premises.

She started crying, immediately admitting that she had stolen the eggs. In fact, they had broken in her pocket. “I’m not a good thief at all,” Johnson admitted.

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Johnson went on to explain that she, her two daughters, her niece and her two grandchildren (just toddlers) had gone without food for two days already. In desperation, she had gathered her last bits of change, a total of one dollar and twenty-five cents, and had gone to the dollar store to buy a carton of eggs. Johnson was disheartened to find that a carton of eggs cost $1.75 plus tax. She was missing just over 50 cents and wouldn’t be able to feed her family.

In despair, Johnson decided to take a few eggs. She put them in her pocket and tried to leave the store. When she got caught, she assumed she was going to jail.

Police officer Stacy told Johnson to wait. But when he came back, it wasn’t with handcuffs. Instead, he gave the woman a dozen eggs that he had purchased for her and told her not to shoplift again.

Virality Leads to a Chain of Kindness

Another shopper used his cellphone to film the incident, and the unexpected act of kindness by a police officer went viral.

Officer Stacy was caught off guard by the attention his act garnered. “I felt like it was the right thing to do,” he said simply. “I didn’t want to pass judgement on her…Some of these people get caught up in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

Incidents of police brutality and the inappropriate use of force by figures of authority have been all over the news lately. People felt uplifted to see an example of a police officer fulfilling his duty to protect and serve—and they shared the video all across their social media networks.

Soon, calls were pouring into the Tarrant police station from people who, inspired by Officer Stacy, wanted to help this woman who was struggling to feed her family.

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In fact, Johnson’s welfare check had been lost in the mail, forcing the family to go without food for two days, unsure of when their next meal would be.

Not only did Stacy help the family eat that day, but his act of kindness set off a chain reaction. People all over the United States offered food, money and clothing. A fund was set up at the local credit union, and a committee uses any donations to pay Johnson’s rent, food, medicine and other bills. At last count, Johnson could be set for more than six months.

She says she hasn’t had this much food security since she was twelve years old.

Kindness Can Change Everything

police hugging needy woman

The incident has changed how some people view police officers. A man phoned the Tarrant station from New York to tell the officers that he was angry with police, but after seeing the viral video, he changed his mind. People all over the country are commenting on the video, saying things like “I’m so proud of this police force,” and “we need more good cops like him”.

The first time that police officers visited Johnson’s apartment, her grandchild was concerned that Johnson would be arrested. Instead, the officers were bringing more food. More recently, when 3-year-old Tamarose was asked what she would do if someone was hungry and asked her for bread, the child responded, “I would give them the whole loaf. And then I would give them Officer Stacy’s number.”

Johnson’s grandchildren are now happy to see police officers at their door. They also have their pick of what to eat—so what do they choose? Cereal is their favorite.

Johnson made a bad choice at a bad time in her life. But she says that Officer Stacy’s reaction has her believing in humanity again. Her heart is open.

Stacy, for his part, believes it was all in the line of duty. “I can’t believe that it’s gotten this much attention, but I’m happy it has. Because of right now, with all the stuff [negative police behavior] going on all over the United States, it’s good that this type of story…gives a positive image for law enforcement. We’re not all crooked individuals.”

With two dollars and a simple act of kindness, police officer Stacy has helped restore people’s faith in the police force and become an everyday hero.


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