AL Walmart employee helps grateful veteran in need of air conditioning
LAFAYETTE, AL (WTVM) - "Right now I'm just existing, barely surviving. It's sad, but it's the truth."
Army veteran Charles Collier has made due with what he can in his humble home in Lafayette, Alabama.
His dog Mickey and cat Callie keep him company, but for some time, Collier has spent sleepless nights. Not having an air conditioner makes it harder for him to breathe, and because Collier relies on his social security disability checks for basic necessities, there was little money left over to cover the cost.
"You're not supposed to be soft, you're not supposed to be weak," Collier said, wiping his eyes, "but once you get up in age, you need to ask for help."
Wednesday, Collier called the Wal-Mart Supercenter in nearby Valley, Alabama to see if anyone could help him find the right AC unit for his budget.
After hearing Collier's story, department manager Donald Howard said he felt in his heart that he had to help.
"I have a soft spot in my heart for veterans because I think they've been dealt a bad hand," Howard said. "My faith and my religion just kept telling me I need to help this man."
Howard told Collier he would help him take care of his problem. "You just come on down here. We'll get you one."
By the end of his trip, Collier came home with a new window unit with enough power to cool his bedroom.
Howard told Collier to pay what he could, and that he would cover the rest of the bill.
"[Howard] made sure I had money in my pocket so I would have food," Collier said. "That's a true person that cares about people."
It's an act of kindness that store manager Natasha Lane and Howard's other colleagues want to celebrate.
"Being that I am a Marine Corps veteran," Lane said, "it does talk on my heartstrings a little bit more when it comes to my military family.
"Hearing [Charles'] story, and hearing what Don did to take care of them just, melted my heart."
Collier said he will sleep a little better tonight, now knowing his neighbors and his community care about him.
"This is the way Americans should treat Americans and neighbors should treat neighbors," he said. "[Donald, Natasha and the staff], they were able to give me a better life and my animals a better life."
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