My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness. ~ Dalai Lama
Jessica Pittman first noticed the elderly man when she was driving through her hometown of Gulfport, Mississippi. The first time, she saw both him and his wife. They were standing on the side of the road near their SUV. Wondering about them, she pulled over. From there, a conversation began that quickly revealed the story of why they were there.
Jessica found out that Kenneth and Helen Smith were there in an attempt to sell kindling wood. The money was needed to help pay for Helen’s medical bills. She’d been diagnosed with lung cancer. To help their financial situation, 80-year-old Kenneth chopped and bagged wood to sell the kindling for $5 a bag.
Seeing Kenneth at the same corner the following year, Jessica noticed something was now different. Helen was not there. Yet, Kenneth was still trying to sell the wood to anyone interested in buying it.
Kenneth shared with Jessica that his wife, Helen had passed away. Understandably, Jessica says she was heartbroken. To see Kenneth still out there every day, hours at a time, even after his wife had passed away, still trying to earn money to help with medical bills, moved her to want to somehow help. Affected to the point of tears, Jessica turned to Facebook to try to help him. What happened was nothing she could have predicted but, maybe only hoped for.
“If y’all need any kindling wood please come buy from this precious 80 year old elderly man. His name is Kenneth. He parks on the corner of Carl leggett and west Taylor Rd. In Gulfport Right near bayou bluff. He is there every day for hours. Selling for $5 a bag.
Background story: Last year he was there selling as well but he had his sweet little wife Helen with him. He was selling to help pay for his wife’s doctor visits and bills.
This year he is alone.”
Jessica had no idea what the extent of Kenneth’s bills were. She only knew that he and his wife’s life savings had been spent the past few years on healthcare costs. Now, he was having a tough time financially.
How nice it will be if this 80-year-old man can discontinue selling wood, see all the medical costs paid in full and maybe even get some of his life savings back so that he can live comfortably for the remainder of his life. Just think; all because one single kind person cared enough to take the initiative to make a difference in another person’s life.
“I was stopped at the stop sign as the funeral passed. That’s when I snapped the picture of him standing there with his hat over his heart. I already had so much respect for Mr. Smith but this just moved me. I was brought to tears. My 9 year old daughter was with me. She didn’t understand why I had tears. So we had a great conversation about respect. I was honored and thankful to witness it and for it to be a lesson for my daughter.”
Jessica shared that, “After I posted this a go fund me account was created by Kenneth’s son Leslie. Not by me. Here is the link if you aren’t able to go buy kindling from him.”
When you read the posts from his family, you learn that Mr. Smith was a hard-working man all his life. You can sense he is very loved and respected by his family. It’s always nice to learn about another good, kind person. Hopefully soon he can take the uninterrupted time he needs to grieve the loss of his wife as he continues to be comforted and supported by his family. It’s hard not to get the feeling that his extended family is growing by the day. A lot of people have stepped up to show that they care about him and his story.