An Atlanta police officer's compassionate response to a shoplifting incident has led to a community rallying around a family in need.
In February, Officer Che Milton of the City of Atlanta Police Department was dispatched to a Family Dollar store where a 12-year-old girl had been caught trying to steal a pair of $2 shoes.
Milton spoke to the girl and asked her why she was shoplifting. She replied that she was taking them for her 5-year-old sister, who needed shoes but couldn't afford them.
"After speaking with the young lady Officer Milton was curious to see what the girl's living conditions were like so he took her home," the City of Atlanta Police Department wrote on Facebook on May 1. "The girl was the oldest of four children; their ages [ranged] from newborn to 12 and their living conditions were poor."
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"There were not enough beds for all of the children, the only furniture in the house was an old sofa and there was not much food in the home."
The children's mother explained to Milton that she didn't work because she couldn't afford to send her kids to daycare. She added that while her husband had a job, it was low-paying and required a lot of travel.
That's when Milton decided to do something. He contacted the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services and notified them of the family's circumstances. He then went out and bought pizza and beverages for the family, using money from his own pocket and delivering them personally.
"Officer Milton did not help this family in hopes of receiving any recognition," the police department wrote. "In fact, another officer came forward to commend Officer Milton. The way that Officer Milton handled this incident showed that not only is he here to enforce the law but also to go the extra mile and be a bigger part of the community he is policing."
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After Milton's generous act was covered by local news stations, the police department took to Facebook again, this time to solicit donations for the family. They set up a drop-off at one of their precincts, stating that donations would be accepted from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday.
The Facebook post was liked over 800 times, with dozens of people vowing to make donations of clothing, shoes, books, mattresses and other household items.
Hours later the police department posted an update:
Atlanta, you've done it again!
Thank you for your love, support and concern for the Staple Family. We are in the process of contacting the mother to obtain the information that is needed so she can receive all the love and support that our followers are offering for her family.
You ALL are amazing and we appreciate it.
Speaking to WSB, Officer Milton said he is grateful to everyone who shared his story and chipped in to help the family.
"Thank you everyone," Milton said. "I really, really appreciate all the kind words. From the bottom of my heart. Thank you all."