New York Officer Lawrence DePrimo has littered the headlines all week. From a photo of him on Facebook to his now numerous television appearances, the 25-year old police officer embodies what is right in our world.
While most us sit back and watch the squabble over the fiscal cliff and worry about how much tax money we may or may not be dolling out over the next several years, DePrimo works a beat in New York City. His reality is watching the sadness of our reality as it affects numerous individuals in the US’s largest city.
For many people, homelessness is reality. No roof over their heads, no bed sheets to lay under, sometimes no shoes to wear. The needs of the homeless greatly outweigh the needs of most of us.
Yet, a common perception misguides the belief of many people. The homeless are often viewed in a negative light – dirty, dangerous, annoying. These characterizations are unfair, unkind, and many times untrue.
There are some, though, that realize these stereotypes are just that – stereotypes. So, as Officer DePrimo worked the antiterrorism beat in New York City, he came across an older homeless man sitting against the outside wall of Subway. Casually walking up to the man, DePrimo noticed the man sat barefooted. His feet covered in blisters, he got up to walk away. Noticing this, DePrimo engaged the man in friendly conversation. The homeless man, polite and kind, talked with DePrimo while standing on his heels as to protect the tender blisters that blanketed the bottoms of his feet.
During the conversation, DePrimo learned that the man wore a size 12 shoe. The conversation came to close shortly after.
Moments later, DePrimo came walking out of a Sketcher’s shoe store with a box of size 12 waterproof winter boots. He knelt down by the homeless man and handed him the box of $100 boots, which he got for $75 because the store clerk knew what the officer was doing with his own money.
“This man’s face lit up like it was Christmas,” said Jennifer Foster who snapped the now famous photograph. Visiting from Arizona, Foster snapped the photograph once she knew what was happening, capturing the true spirit of the season.
After the boots were fitted, the homeless man rose to his feet, thanked the officer and walked on his way. Office DePrimo returned to his post thinking no one had noticed his act of kindness. Foster continued her vacation, and later allowed the photo to be posted on the social media website.
As the story is told again and again, the officer’s kindness remains true and real. Officer DePrimo did not purchase the boots knowing he would become a national focus. Rather, he did what he thought was right – someone just happened to notice that act of kindness.
“I keep the receipt in my bulletproof vest mostly because I think it’s an important reminder that some people have it worse,” DePrimo said.
In an age of want and misperceptions, Officer DePrimo and the homeless man he helped embody what is good in our world. When we think we do not have enough or maybe we want more, we must remember there are people who need more and people who give more.