Police officers often see homeless residents in some of the most despondent conditions, but sometimes even they are so moved by those in need that they step in to help with personal resources.
When four San Francisco cops received a call Friday night alerting them to a family of seven stuck outside on a rainy, windy night, the officers responded to the scene and discovered Joel Silva and his family had missed the 8 p.m. door-closing at their shelter.
"Here were these five kids, all dressed well but just down on their luck with all their bags and two strollers," Officer Eithne Cummins told the San Francisco Chronicle of the children, ages 8 months to 12 years.
Officer Brian Carew called their next move a “no-brainer.” The team, including Officers Brendan Caraway and Valerie Durkin, pulled together cash out of their own pockets to check the family into a nearby hotel room and purchase baby wipes and formula for them.
"We had to do something," Caraway told ABC 7 News. "Between the four of us, a hotel for a night is not the most expensive thing in the world."
Silva was amazed by the cops’ generosity.
“They’re definitely going above and beyond to help our family out,” he said.
For many others in the Silva family’s shoes, not having a place to stay can be a matter of life or death. A cold snap in the San Francisco Bay Area in December left four homeless people dead from hypothermia. A survey from the National Homeless Coalition found that across the country, most emergency winter homeless shelters don’t open until temperatures are well below life-threatening.