CHARLOTTE, NC (FOX 46 WJZY) - Gracie Miller was desperate. Disabled and living on a fixed income, she'd just received terrible news.
“They were going to repossess my car if I didn't have $375 by the next day,” she said.
With no family and no savings, she turned to NextDoor, the neighborhood social platform to make a plea.
A post titled “need a blessing,” she said she was walking out on faith.
“It makes you feel like crap when you have to say, I need help. Makes you feel weak, but by the same token, I felt like I had no choice,” said Gracie.
Some neighbors immediately responded, offering their helping hands.
“I could relate to that. I've been in a place where I needed someone to help me and it caught my attention,” said Dennis Frazier. He was the first person to offer his help, pledging $75.
But other neighbors had their doubts.
“Somebody said, ‘well, I've got some student loans somebody can pay. I've got utility bills that need to be paid,’” Gracie said.
What she didn't know was that military veteran Kevin Smith was reading every word.
“I've had difficult times but I've always come out on top. I've always managed to pull myself up out of the hole. And sometimes I've actually had to ask for help myself,” said Kevin.
The vet took charge, calling the auto sales company to verify Gracie's story. He pledged a donation of his own, and challenged his neighbors to give.
“I had two goals. First goal was to bring the account current, keep the car from repossession and second goal was to come up with enough money to pay it off so she wouldn't have to worry about it again.” Kevin said. “I don't think I slept but an hour because I was really online the whole time just thanking people for their pledges.”
Kevin had collected enough money not only to pay what she owed that month, but three times what she needed, and he was taking her to the dealership himself. Gracie had no idea until her phone rang the next day.
“And I was blown away. I could not believe it,” she said. “I was in disbelief up until the time he actually picked me up and took me to the car dealership. Even after that, I said, let me see the receipt.”
It was true. Gracie had her car back. She posted pictures so that everyone who pledged could see what they'd accomplished.
“I asked Kevin what could I do to repay him. He told me to just pay it forward. And he said…he said to let people know that umm love has no color, it's about being kind to people. And having love for one another,” Gracie said.
Makes you wonder, where does Kevin's compassion come from?
“I promised a really good friend of mine that I lost that I would pay his friendship forward,” Kevin says.
Paying it forward, asking for nothing in return.
“He has his own struggles. He lost his job 4 weeks ago, he said? I think he's driving for Uber and Lyft to make the ends meet,” said Gracie.
But Kevin says he'd rather focus on Gracie.
“No I'm good at the moment, I'm going to make it,” he said. “The only thing I can explain is I believe God put my eyes right there on that post. God said read it and my mission and the only thing I've been doing since then is this.”
Three strangers, brought together by struggle and bonded by faith in the idea that good things come to those who ask.
“And because of her asking, in a time of need, look at the results. Fantastic.”