TARRANT, Ala. (WIAT)- None of them can really believe it. Another truck has pulled up to the Tarrant Police Department full of canned goods and other food late Friday morning. “We’re getting donations hourly,” said Sgt. Larry Rice. He added this would be the fifth or sixth truck-load of full the department would be taking to Helen Johnson’s apartment. As several more bags of groceries are loaded into the Tarrant Police Department’s white pick-up, it’s hard to fathom how it all got to this point.
Helen Johnson was the impetus behind a viral video that hit the internet over the weekend. She had tried to steal eggs from a Dollar General Store because she claimed her children had not eaten in two days. She was caught by employees at the Dollar General, who then called police. When the store decided not to press charges, the responding officer, William Stacy, bought the eggs for Johnson. That’s when Robert Tripp grabbed his phone and recorded Officer Stacy handing the eggs to Johnson and giving her a hug. Within a couple days, the video was well over 250,000 views on Facebook. Since the story, dozens of people have dropped off food for Johnson at the Tarrant Police Department. “The response for Miss Johnson is incredible,” said Officer Stacy on Friday.
Miss Johnson is not an anomaly in Tarrant. Several police officers said they regularly see people struggling when they go out on calls. “We see folks in need daily,” said Sgt. Rice. Officer Stacy added, “Tarrant, it’s rough. It’s tough living out here.”
According to the United States Census Bureau, the Per Capita Money Income for Tarrant (2009-2013) is $15,202.
The outpouring of love for Johnson has driven the Tarrant Police Department to try and expand their impact. “We all decided that we wanted to start a, our own charity,” said Officer Stacy. “A Tarrant Police Department charity. If we can get this for Miss Johnson, we can do this for everybody else.” For her part, Johnson hopes the charity has the same success and support from which she has benefited. “For me to see this happen, to not just me but to other people, would renew my faith in God,” she said.
The TPD will accept food and other donations at the police department (2593 Commerce Circle, Birmingham, AL 35217), and monetary donations can be dropped off at Peoples First Federal Credit Union. Checks can be made out to “Tarrant Police Charity Fund.”