A Simple Act of Sacrificial Kindness

In 2012, on a cold November night in Times Square, Officer Lawrence DePrimo was working a counterterrorism post when he encountered an older, barefooted, homeless man (see the full photo here). The police officer, who is normally assigned to a different section of New York City, said, “I looked over and someone was laughing at this elderly [homeless] gentleman who had no socks (and) no shoes. You could see the blisters from a distance. I had two pairs of socks and I was still cold.”

So, he asked the man if he had anything to cover his feet. “It’s okay, sir, I’ve never had a pair of shoes,” the homeless man replied. “But God bless you.” As the homeless man strolled away, DePrimo caught up to him and asked him his shoe size before walking into a Skechers on W. 42nd St. DiPrimo told a worker, “I’d like to buy a pair of boots, something that will last a while. I don’t care what the price is.” A few minutes later, the kindhearted cop bought a $100 pair of all-weather boots, size 12. A store manager later said, “We were just kind of shocked. Most of us are New Yorkers and we just kind of pass by that kind of thing. Especially in this neighborhood.”

The act of kindness would have gone unnoticed and mostly forgotten, had it not been for Jennifer Foster, a tourist from Arizona. Foster said, “The officer expected NOTHING in return and did not know I was watching.” Her snapshot—taken with her cellphone and posted to the New York Police Department’s official Facebook page—made Officer DePrimo an overnight Internet hero. 

But that act of sacrificial kindness is only a shadow of the cross of Jesus, where we receive not a pair of boots, but the covering of perfect righteousness, whereby we are no longer homeless, but forgiven, adopted, accepted and loved forever. It really is amazing grace. And having received such grace, we now get to extend it to others, for their good, our joy and ultimately the glory of God.

Source: David Goodman, “Photo of Officer Giving Boots to Barefoot Man Warms Hearts Online,” The New York Times (11-28-12); Amanda Mickelberg, “NYPD Officer Larry DePrimo immortalized in tourist’s photo …” New York Post (12-18-12)