"Blessed is he who, in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother's keeper and the finder of lost children."
Homeless Man Who Received Boots from NYC Police Officer is Grateful, but is Barefoot Again
"The Jeffrey Hillman I Knew Had Shoes But Still Needed Help"
"He's barefoot again. That this is reality is unacceptable lunacy."
After Officer Lawrence DePrimo knelt beside a barefoot man on a bitterly cold November night in Times Square, giving him a pair of boots, a photo of his random act of good will quickly took on a life of its own -- becoming a symbol for a million acts of kindness that go unnoticed every day and a reminder that even in this tough, often anonymous city, people can still look out for one another.
Officer DePrimo was celebrated on front pages and morning talk shows, the Police Department came away with a burnished image and millions got a smile from a nice story.
But what of the shoeless man?
For days, his bare feet -- blistered and battered -- were well known. Yet precise details about him proved elusive.
His name is Jeffrey Hillman, and on Sunday night, he was once again wandering the streets -- this time on the Upper West Side -- with no shoes.
"Those shoes are hidden. They are worth a lot of money," Mr. Hillman said in an interview on Broadway in the 70s. "I could lose my life."
Mr. Hillman, 54, was by turns aggrieved, grateful and taken aback by all the attention that had come his way -- even as he struggled to figure out what to do about it.
"I was put on YouTube, I was put on everything without permission. What do I get?" he said. "This went around the world, and I want a piece of the pie."
He did not recall the photo being taken but remembered well the gift from Officer DePrimo. "I appreciate what the officer did, don't get me wrong," he said. "I wish there were more people like him in the world."
At another point he said: "I want to thank everyone that got onto this thing. I want to thank them from the bottom of my heart. It meant a lot to me. And to the officer, first and foremost."
SOURCE: MARC SANTORA and ALEX VADUKUL
The New York Times
The New York Times
The Jeffrey Hillman I Knew Had Shoes But Still Needed Help
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