Homeless man Billy Ray Harris received more than $175,000 in donations after he returned a woman’s engagement ring last month.
Sarah Darling accidentally gave Harris her ring when she handed him a handful of change from her coin purse, not realizing she had actually grabbed her ring with it.
When she returned the next day to see if he had it, he gave it to her immediately.
Her husband set up a fundraising page on giveforward.com for Harris, who had been sleeping under a bridge regularly.
With the media attention he received, he also had the blessing of being reunited with his family in Texas, where he was born.
His younger sister Robin Harris saw the news reports on Billy and reconnected with him two weeks ago. They had not talked for 16 years and she thought he might be dead.
“It was nice. I was crying,” Robin said of her long phone conversations with Billy. “I was happy to hear from my brother. I told him I just couldn’t believe he stayed homeless for so long when he knew he could come back. I would always give my brother a place to stay.”
She also helped Billy get in touch with his other siblings and a number of nieces and nephews, some of which he did not even know existed.
He said he was happy to be back in touch with his family.
“I hadn’t talked to her in so many years. I was totally excited and surprised,” he said.
Harris plans to use the money he received to buy an apartment and fly back to Texas to see his family.
While he waits to open a bank account, Harris is off the streets and staying with a friend.
Though he is grateful for the donations, he said the best thing to come of the situation was his family getting back in touch with him.
“That’s the main thing,” he said. “To me, that’s the best thing to come out of this whole deal.”