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Gifts for Gary

Organized by: Rebecca Borrelli

Rebecca's Photo

THE STORY:

Last week my dog and I met Gary on the streets of Austin, TX. Gary is homeless, and I met him through a generous act of kindness on his part. Inspired by his compassion, I shared the story on social media (story below). Dozens of people have asked if they can do something for Gary for the holidays. I know very little about Gary's situation. I know that he is creature of habit. I know that he has lived under the same Austin bridge in almost complete invisibility for a year a half. Each day between 10 am and 2 pm he stands at the same intersection with a cardboard sign and a big smile on his face. He is skinny, his smile has gaps, but he is always clean and put together. If my single interaction with him is indication of his character, he shares what he has often with others in the homeless community. All money from this campaign will be funneled into a gift card for the grocery store near his camp. If you are inspired by Gary's story, and would like to gift him something of your own, please email beccajborrelli@gmail.com by Sunday December 20th.

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Gary's story:

The morning of December 10th, I shoved dog treats, some art, all my markers, a snack and my book into a hiking bag. I drove Layla and I to a local mechanic near an off-leash park. The plan: drop off the car, walk Layla to the park, art it up while she ran around with other cute pups. 

The mechanic was full for the day. 

I had already dared take my nervous rescue pup to a strange location. The despair of pulling into the mechanic parking lot had caused her to puke in my car. Twice. Rather than find another mechanic we went to the park. She had a blast.

On the way home my car started acting odd once more. There's a shop on Bee Cave only a mile from our apartment. I stopped in, knowing the walk home would be short. But as Layla and I walked out, I realized I had it in for myself. The traffic on Bee Cave is foreign to her, and she was terrified. Needless to say, it was slow going. By the time we got to the frontage road, I was pretty frazzled.

Suddenly a tall homeless man standing in the median began to call to us. I couldn't hear him, but he was pointing at Layla.

Seriously? I thought. I don't have the energy for this right now.

He crossed over the busy frontage ramp and disarmed me with the nicest introduction and handshake. His name was Gary. As it turned out, Gary had dog food someone had given him. He didn't have a dog, and he wondered if I would like it. I thought it was nice. But strange. Why would I want dog food? We have plenty at home. It didn't seem like he wanted money. He seemed really excited to give Layla the food. 

It struck me, Gary asked for help all day long. Now he had an opportunity to give us something. How shitty would it be if I said "no?" When I told him 'yes,' he beamed. "It's over here at my camp." He pointed to the bridge. 

As we waited to cross the frontage Gary said: "So what's your story?" I paused. I didn't know what to say. 

"I mean where are you camping? You homeless?" 

Holy crap.

Here I was, a woman in a baseball hat, ripped jeans, with the BIGGEST backpack, and a scared dog, walking by myself under the freeway. I totally looked homeless. And Gary did what homeless people do when they see one of their own... 

He was going to help. 

"Oh no, I'm not a camper," I said sheepishly. "I live across there. We're walking home." 

I hesitated feeling a little guilty, but Gary smiled, looking noticeably relieved, and said: "Oh GOOD." {haha, thank goodness this ragged girl and her scared pup aren't homeless... or they would TOTALLY be screwed.}

"So where at?" he asked. I told him some apartments on the Greenbelt. And that's when his face changed. Now Gary realized he was offering his dog food to a woman who had MORE than enough at home. 

"Hey look, if you know someone who's camping who might need that food, you're welcome to keep it," I told him. 

Instantly his face changed back to a smile. 

"Oh no," he said cheerfully. "I've had it forever and I'm tired of carrying it." By this point we were under the MoPac bridge and Gary pointed upward:

"That's my camp. I've been there a year and half now." And sure enough, in the deepest part of the bridge... a bridge I drive under every day, was snugly tucked his sleeping bag and pack. 

So Layla and I waited. He was gone FOREVER. She was being as patient as possible, but I could see she was freaking out. "What is he doing up there?" I caught myself thinking. And even crappier I thought: "I mean it's not like he has a lot to look through." 

As he walked back, I saw why it had taken so long. In his hand was a brown bag with gold polka-dots gleaming in the sun. When I looked inside, he had taken old plastic and neatly wrapped it around the dog food like a gift. He also included a plastic spoon, and a can of steak and potato soup... two things he ABSOLUTELY could have used. 

I was stunned.

"Can I pet your pup?" Gary asked. "Sure!" I told him. I simultaneously wondered how Layla would react. She barks at strange guys. But when he bent over she gave him her classic lick on the hand. A Layla kiss. And that was too much y'all. I reached into my bag and gave him some cash in my wallet. 

"Oh no, look, I didn't want anything..."

I told him straight: 

"You thought I was a camper." 

He smiled and got quiet, because he understood. He gave me a hug. 

"Bye Rebecca, it was nice meeting you. Bye Layla." And then he was off. 

We both left the interaction surprised. A homeless stranger treated me with such abundance. Such generosity. Even after he found out I didn't need it! I suspect he was surprised a woman from luxury apartments off the greenbelt was chatting with him like an actual human being. 

I'll be flying high for awhile after this one. Seriously, the coolest shit happens to me! Best Christmas gift of the season!

If you're driving east on Bee Cave to Mopac and you see Gary on the median, think of this story. He looks out for people. He has dignity. And he shares what he has freely. 

Happy Holidays!

$140

 

70% Raised of $200 Goal

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  • Emma

    $10

  • Cairee

    $10

  • Lily

    $25

  • Teresa

    $10

  • Tara

    $20

  • Camie

    $10

  • Kate Acker

    $15

  • Rebecca Borrelli

    $10

  • Ian

    $10

  • Dan & Kathleen Moreland

    $20

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Organized by

Rebecca Borrelli

This is a direct to organizer fundraiser.

Donor Comments

Dan & Kathleen Moreland

Dan & Kathleen Moreland

DONATION: $20

3 years ago

Ian

Ian

DONATION: $10

3 years ago

Rebecca Borrelli

Rebecca Borrelli

DONATION: $10

3 years ago

Kate Acker

Kate Acker

DONATION: $15

3 years ago

Camie

Camie

DONATION: $10

3 years ago

Tara

Tara

DONATION: $20

3 years ago

Teresa

Teresa

DONATION: $10

3 years ago

Lily

Lily

DONATION: $25

3 years ago

Cairee

Cairee

DONATION: $10

3 years ago

Emma

Emma

DONATION: $10

3 years ago

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