Everyday Angels

Good Samaritan stories keep coming in Charlotte

Fuel Pizza worker John Dodson saw Pat Carpenter in distress and came to help her. She credits with him with saving her life. Dodson is one of many ‘Everyday Angels” who’ve been featured in the Observer over the past year.
Fuel Pizza worker John Dodson saw Pat Carpenter in distress and came to help her. She credits with him with saving her life. Dodson is one of many ‘Everyday Angels” who’ve been featured in the Observer over the past year. Courtesy of John Dodson

It’s easy to be a cynic. It’s much harder to be hopeful.

But reading the stories you’ve shared about your encounters with “Everyday Angels” gives us a weekly dose of good cheer.

When we first began this column in September 2014, we didn’t know if we’d get any response. We decided to try it for a month and see if readers encountered strangers who went out of their way to help.

We ended up with more stories than we have room to tell.

We feel uplifted, first, by the anonymous passersby who change a stranger’s flat tire, help corral a pet that’s escaped, pay for a meal, offer directions, lend a hand. One man – John Dodson of Fuel Pizza – may have saved Pat Carpenter’s life.

These people don’t offer aid in exchange for recognition. Often, they’re gone before the person they’ve helped can even think to ask their name. They do it because they feel called to.

Sometimes the angels are police officers or firefighters. Sometimes they’re not in uniform. They’re just going about their day when they notice someone struggling.

But it’s not just the angels among us who make us despair a little less about the human condition. It’s the people who write to us. They, too, are angels. They’ve been the beneficiaries of a good deed, and they want to publicly recognize the Good Samaritan they encountered.

When Peggy Martin Halsch of Wilkesboro lost the diamond from her wedding ring in a Kohl’s in California – and an employee returned it to her – she couldn’t find anyone at the corporate office to thank. (We’re still marveling over that– a lost diamond is actually found in a public place.) So, she wrote The Observer. (Someone at Kohl’s saw the story online and was able to locate and thank the honest employee who didn’t want any recognition – or the cash reward Halsch offered.)

Dale Cassida found a wallet with $500 in cash – and returned it to its grateful, frantic owner.

Patricia Gagno was visiting the area from Canada and left her purse (with her passport in it) in a shopping cart. She wrote us to thank the person who found it. Then, she wrote us again to thank us for running her story.

One thing we’ve seen after working through so many of these stories is that when you do something good for one person, you sometimes start a ripple effect that goes far beyond the stranded motorist or the person who’s lost his wallet or her purse.

In a season of miracles, we’re mindful of one of the biggest, but most often overlooked, miracles – the kindness of strangers.

Thanks to the John Dodsons and Dale Cassidas among us who don’t look away when someone’s in trouble. We know from this column that there are lots more like them.

And should you ever come in contact with an Everyday Angel, send along your story. When you do, you’ll be spreading a little of that goodwill yourself.

Roland Wilkerson, deputy features editor, and Page Leggett, correspondent, who coordinates stories and photos.

Share your story

Did a stranger step in to offer you help out of the blue? Email rwilkerson@charlotteobserver.com. Include name, hometown and daytime number. Or mail Everyday Angels, Charlotte Observer, 600 S. Tryon, Charlotte, NC 28230. Roland Wilkerson

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