A homeless man, huddled on a sidewalk in the heart of Phoenix, wasn’t hurting anyone, but he was apparently a bother to people coming and going from a gas station. When police arrived to address the situation, one officer sensed something familiar about the man. Upon closer inspection, the officer realized what he had and dropped to his knees in front of stunned onlookers.
Raymond Celaya happened to be in the area Friday afternoon, and rather than intervening in the situation, he stood back and recorded what he witnessed. Phoenix Police Officer Mark Valenzuela had approached the unidentified homeless man with a question, when he immediately took notice of what stunned him about the man’s feet.
They were bare, and it was cold outside, even for the typically mild Arizona city. But with no shoes or socks, he had walked his feet raw, and he couldn’t go another step. Valenzuela thought something was very familiar to him when he looked at the homeless man’s feet.
While it’s common for the homeless to be without proper shoes, Valenzela realized at that moment that he had pair of shoes that might fit this man, who had a much greater need for them. He grabbed the practically new footwear from his patrol car, but he didn’t just simply hand them to the homeless man. What he did next was a true act of selfless love for a stranger.
The officer asked the vagrant to have a seat on the back of his car and told him to get comfortable. He knelt before the needy man and dressed his feet in a warm pair of socks he had for him, before sliding each new shoe on the man’s feet. He took special care to make sure they fit him well and that they were comfortable. They didn’t just suffice, the shoes were his exact size.
The grateful homeless man reached into his pocket and grabbed a few bucks to give to the caring cop for the shoes. Officer Valenzuela told him that the gift didn’t come from him and that all glory goes to God. “He was just very thankful. I could see a little bit of money in his pocket, he had some dollar bills and some change,” the kindhearted cop explained. “He wanted to pay me for the shoes and I just told him they were a gift from God.”
The shoes are a gift from God, as it’s not a coincidence that the right size was in the car of the cop who came to the scene that day. The officer’s servant heart is also a gift from God, and the homeless man offering to pay him is a sign of gratitude, which is one of the greatest gifts one can be blessed with. The officer did not only warm this man’s feet, he warmed his soul and let him know he’s not alone in this life.