When Barnesville, Georgia, police officers responded to a call of someone sleeping in a tent on a college campus, they uncovered an inspiring story.
Fred Barley, 19 and homeless, was sleeping in a tent in the bushes when officers told him to come out with his hands up, WSB-TV reports. Instead of issuing the teen a ticket for trespassing, they listened to his story.
Barley told the officers he traveled for six hours in the summer heat from Conyers to Barnesville on his brother’s bike with two gallons of water to register for his second semester of classes at Gordon State College. The dorms do not open until August, so Barley planned to sleep in his tent on campus for a few weeks.
He had two duffel bags with all of his belongings and only a box of cereal to eat.
When the officers found him in the tent, he had just returned from looking for a job.
Barley told the officers he chose the bushes on campus to pitch his tent because he thought it would be safer than staying in Conyers.
“He was so understanding and he said, ‘I definitely applaud you for doing this. We can’t allow you to stay here, but I have somewhere you can stay,’” Barley recalled one of the officers saying.
The officers took Barley to a local motel and paid for him to stay two nights.
“The stuff that’s happening with police officers, I am black and he didn’t care what color I was," Barley said. "He just helped me, and that meant a lot."
The officer’s wife posted Barley’s story to the Barnesville community Facebook, and hundreds of people offered to help the biology major.
“I was shocked by how much support people will give from Lamar County and counties all over and even people from across the country that I’ve never met just wanted to help so much in my life,” Barley said. “I was just so shocked and grateful.”
Area resident Casey Blaney and the motel owner are paying for Barley to stay at the motel until the dorms open early for him.
Barley also now has a job at DB’s Pizzeria as a dishwasher.
“I created a position for him before he walked in my door,” owner Debbie Adamson, who saw Barley’s story on Facebook, said. “I didn’t know his name. I didn’t know the color of his skin. I didn’t care. I’ve been there so I guess I had a soft spot for anyone who is that determined to succeed in life.”
Donations of clothes, school supplies, shoes and a new bike have been made for Barley, as well as help with his dental and medical needs.
A “Success for Fred” Facebook page has been started for him, as well as a GoFundMe account, which has raised more than $169,000 to help Barley finish college and establish a home.
For Barley, it’s the people that have stood out the most, not the gifts.
“Some of the gifts aren’t as important as the friends I’ve made," he said. "More important than everything ... the relationships mean so much more to me."