Acts of Kindness
Officer gives little boy walking alone a ride but once inside his home realizes he needs his help
Concerned strangers had called the police about a young boy seen walking alone outside of a 7 eleven. When Officer Riley arrived he gave the boy a ride back home completely unaware of what he’d find when he stepped foot inside the boy's home.
Ma Fatima Garcia
06.06.22

Officer James Riley, a member of the Austin Police Department, received a phone call last June 3, 2019.

The concerned citizen told Riley that a young child was walking alone in the parking lot of 7-Eleven. Riley rushed to the location, and indeed, he saw a little boy.

The little boy was on the sidewalk of 7-Eleven, and the people who saw the boy thought he was around five to six years old.

Pexels / Linh San
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Pexels / Linh San

However, when Riley asked the boy, he replied he was almost ten years old.

The boy answered Officer Riley’s questions with all honesty, and the concerned officer noticed he was holding two Slurpees and some Pop-Tarts.

He also said he needed to go home because someone was waiting for him – his little brother.

Pexels / Trinity Kubassek
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Pexels / Trinity Kubassek

Most people would already show disgust and disappointment in this situation. Who would leave a child to roam around unattended? What parents do these kids have?

But the kind officer was different. He didn’t judge the child’s parents. He didn’t show any doubt, only concern for the boy and his brother.

Officer Riley explained in his interview with TODAY that he evaluated the child’s situation and realized that there were no “unreasonable risks of harm” based on Texas law.

Pexels / Kindel Media
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Pexels / Kindel Media

“[Child abandonment and endangerment] is circumstantial. In this case, when I observed him beforehand, he was up and paying attention, walking diligently. He knew what he was doing and was watching for cars,” Riley explained why he said there were no unreasonable risks or harm.

But the officer also knew that his calling was more than just checking this child’s case.

“But I wasn’t gonna say, ‘OK have a nice life, little guy.’ And I didn’t want his Slurpees to melt, so I offered him a ride home.”

Pexels / Victoria Borodinova
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Pexels / Victoria Borodinova

After ensuring the boy’s safety at home, Officer Riley called their mother. It shocked her to know that her eldest son went outside.

She told the officer that she had advised them to stay at home. The mother entrusted her sons to a friend or neighbor, so it shocked her to know that one of the boys went outside.

Riley had an idea why the eldest did so.

Pexels / cottonbro
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Pexels / cottonbro

He noticed the family’s fridge and pantry. They were almost empty, and this broke his heart.

Then, he learned through the boy’s mother that they are going through a tough time.

“It was week two of her not receiving her benefits and it wouldn’t be resolved for at least another week. More or less, she said they were getting by,” Riley shared. But she added that “getting by would probably be a stretch.”

Pexels / Marcus Aurelius
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Pexels / Marcus Aurelius

He gave the mother some advice and told her options that might help her and her children, though he knew he needed to do more.

With the officer’s money and some donations from another officer and their sergeant, he went straight to a grocery store and purchased the family some snacks and meals.

He chose snacks that a child would be able to prepare. This way, the child won’t need to leave the house if they are hungry.

Pexels / Michael Burrows
Source:
Pexels / Michael Burrows

Last June 11, three years ago, The APD or Austin Police Department shared this heartwarming gesture on their Facebook page.

They posted a photo of the cart filled with groceries, and the post touched many people. The post garnered 8.3K reactions, 1.2K comments, and 1.2K shares.

Officer Riley went back to the children’s home, and he said that the boys were eager to help him put everything away.

After the task, they all sat down, did their summer reading, and helped the kids with the remaining household chores.

We’re pretty sure the mom went home to a wonderful surprise.

This story teaches us not to judge based on what we see. There’s a story behind every situation and if you can, help.

Please SHARE this with your friends and family.

By Ma Fatima Garcia
hi@sbly.com
Ma Fatima Garcia is a contributor at SBLY Media.
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