The sun rose Friday, and 73-year-old James T. Starnes, disabled, with his 9-1/2 fingers and feet bent with arthritis, rose from the darkness of a home without electricity to answer the door.
He opened it and saw the sun peeking over the trees.
He also saw the face of a stranger with a box of food. Bread, cold drinks, Vienna sausages and more.
“God bless you, Jimmy T,” said the lady. “No man should be without food or electricity at your age. You take this, and you eat.”
The story of “Jimmy T” living for days without electricity or food after his wallet was stolen, which ran in Friday’s Herald, prompted that woman and countless others to reach out and help.
By 10 a.m., the overdue Duke Energy bill had been paid by strangers, with more donations going toward future months with power. By 4 p.m., his lights were back on.
A patrol car from the York Police Department arrived, and the officer pulled out a huge box of food.
“Jimmy T, a lady dropped this off at the station for you,” the officer said.
Minutes later, a stranger named Michelle arrived, her kids in tow, with a truckload of food. She unloaded it, hugged Jimmy T and said, “You are not alone, Jimmy T.”
Others came to the trailer Jimmy T lives in, carrying food and money and ice and gasoline for the lawn mower he uses to cut his neighbors’ grass.
A group from the telephone company arrived with boxes of food and ice, milk and bread and more.
A burly guy about 6 feet, 6 inches tall, weighing some 300 pounds, pulled into the rutted driveway. He uncurled himself from his vehicle, held the front page of The Herald, and marched straight up to the rickety old porch.
“You must be Jimmy T,” the man said.
“I sure am,” said Jimmy T.
The big man used his work shirt with grease stains on it to wipe the tears from his eyes. From his pocket, he pulled out a wad of bills that surely had been earned with hard labor. He emptied that pocket and his wallet, too.
“Jimmy T, you take this because God loves you,” the man said. “And I never met you ’til now, but I love you, too.”
What all these people brought was more than food and drinks and even money.
It was love.
Lowry and Jackie Russell from way out in western York County not only brought so much, but they also made arrangements to drive Jimmy T to the DMV next week so he can get a new identification card. His ID was in the stolen wallet.
The Russells called Kenny Jones from the Key Shop in York to fix the doorknob, since Jimmy T’s keys had been stolen, too.
But Jones was already parking in the yard. Ten minutes later, the door was fixed.
“Lemme pay you for that,” Jimmy T said to Jones.
“Not a chance,” said Kenny Jones.
The donations continued all day. Jimmy T thanked them all. He thanked them, and he held their hands and prayed with them.
After his wallet was stolen, Jimmy T thought he would have to live without electricity or food until Wednesday, when his next Social Security check will be deposited.
Strangers changed that in hours.
“I thank all of these people,” Jimmy T said. “These people they are white and they are black, and they come here to try and help me, an old man that had his lights cut off, and all I can say is thank you.
“God truly does love me. And I can tell you one thing – God loves them, too.”