NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A New York City transit police officer has made good on a promise he made a homeless man.
As CBS2’s Alice Gainer reported, a stranger took a picture of police officers surrounding a homeless man going through the trash. Instead of chasing him away, one of the cops offered to buy him an early Christmas present.
Officer Frank Rendina, of the NYPD Transit Bureau’s Anti-Terrorism Unit, and another officer were patrolling Grand Central Terminal last Friday when they spotted Ron Brown digging through the trash.
They explained to Brown that it’s illegal to open trash receptacles on the platform and asked him to stop, according to Joshua Lagan, a subway rider who witnessed the exchange and wrote about it on his Facebook page.
Rendina then asked Brown why he was rummaging through the garbage.
Brown said, “I want socks,” and without hesitating, Rendina offered to buy him a pair, Lagan said.
“Without hesitation, the cop put his arm on his shoulder and smiling said, ‘I’ll buy you socks. It’s Christmas soon right? I’ll buy you socks for Christmas. Merry Christmas,’ he said smiling broadly. ‘Let’s go to the store.’ The homeless man was so shocked he just kept stammering, ‘Are you serious?” “Are you serious?'” Lagan wrote in the post which has been shared more than 2,000 times.
NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill thanked Lagan for capturing the special moment.
Rendina had the socks boxed and wrapped, and he was back in Grand Central on Tuesday to give the present to Brown.
“It’s Christmas season, I would’ve done it regardless but we made it extra special,” Rendina said. “He said his feet hurt, he needed a pair of socks and he couldn’t do it. So, why not? I got a couple of extra bucks. It is what it is.”
The gift was very much needed, Brown suffers from a variety of health issues like scoliosis and diabetes, these were special socks for people with diabetes.
“I knew he’d gone to the doctor so I asked him how he was feeling. He said his feet were still hurting, he needed his socks,” Redina said.
Rendina actually know Brown from the job. He met him down in the subway 2 years ago, as Brown searched for discarded MetroCards in a trash can.
“I found out he’s an old caddy from South Carolina, and I happen to play golf as well, so we struck up a conversation about golf. Ever since then golf, football, and the Carolina Panthers,” Rendina said.
They typically run into each other about twice a month.
“He’s a good man,” Brown said, adding that the special diabetic socks will help his circulation and keep his feet warm. “Very nice, it made me feel real great.”
With a big smile, Brown said his Santa Claus wears a blue uniform, 1010 WINS’ Al Jones reported.
More than 5,000 people have liked the post and over 200 have commented — much to the surprise of Rendina.
“I really didn’t look to be anybody’s inspiration, it was just an interaction I have with him on a regular basis,” he said.
As for Brown, he shared some advice for people looking to make a difference during the season of giving.
“Help them if you can. The main thing of it, when you help people from your heart it will come back to you,” he said.
Last month, Brown celebrated his 70th birthday with Rendina. They had Nutterbutters and water down in the subway at 125th Street.