Member Stories

Neighbors in Atlanta Rally to Help Local Homeless Man, Who Pays It Forward

Piedmont Park in Atlanta in the snow
Written by Anne Dreshfield

When Suzanne P., a neighbor in East Atlanta, found out that she wouldn’t be home for the holidays, she was devastated.

Knowing that it would be difficult to not be with her family over the holidays, she decided to make a plan ahead of time for Christmas day – a plan that quickly changed when she received a voicemail on Christmas Eve.

“Hey Suzanne, it’s Rick,” the voicemail said. “I love you and called to say Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. I love you. You can call me back at this number. This is my phone. I love you. Bye.”

Suzanne and Rick.

It was Suzanne’s homeless friend, Rick, who she had gotten to know over the years in the neighborhood. Suzanne promptly called him back, inviting him over for dinner on Christmas.

“He was so excited when I told him we were going to have steak,” Suzanne laughs. “But I asked myself: what’s Christmas without presents?”

That’s when Suzanne took to Nextdoor, asking neighbors for any donations for Rick for Christmas. The response, she says, was unbelievable.

“It’s been the most meaningful Christmas yet.”
From wrapping paper, to stocking stuffers, to clothing, socks, and new shoes, the gifts were coming in from all across neighborhoods in East Atlanta. Suzanne collected them all within a day, and promised Rick she would pick him up around dinnertime on Christmas. The plan was for Rick to take a warm shower at her home while she prepared dinner, and Suzanne would do his laundry while they enjoyed the steak.

It was during dinner with Suzanne told Rick the final surprise: she had a few gifts for him.

“He started crying,” Suzanne shares. After opening a handful, Suzanne asked him to come to a back room, because the final gift was too hard to wrap. It was there that the rest of the donations were piled, filling most of the room.

“He started doing what I knew he would do,” says Suzanne. Overwhelmed by the sheer number of gifts, Rick started planning which ones to give to others he knew were in need.

Soon, they set off to deliver the gifts.

“It’s been the most meaningful Christmas yet,” Suzanne said. “I am so lucky that I met Rick. He tells us all the time how much it means to him. He’s not invisible – he’s human.”

And to all of the neighbors who gave presents to Rick, he has a message:

“My name is Rick,” he said. “And to all of you who gave gifts to give me through Suzanne – I love y’all and thank y’all. And may God bless y’all.”

If you would like to donate to help Rick and other homeless individuals in East Atlanta, click here.


Do you have a story about how you’ve used Nextdoor in your neighborhood? Let us know.

Originally reported by ABC Atlanta.

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