Pay it Forward

Meridian, Idaho

I was station surfing in my car a few days ago while driving home from pickleball and happened upon this story:


When 81-year-old Clarence Blackmon returned home Tuesday after spending months in the hospital for cancer treatments and rehab, his refrigerator was empty.

He had nothing to eat and no way to get to the store. Hungry and desperate, he called 911. He asked the operator if someone could go to the store for him and buy some groceries.

He told the operator whatever she could do would help.

“I can’t do anything. I can’t go anywhere. I can’t get out of my damn chair,” Blackmon said in his 911 call.

Operator Marilyn Hinson took the call and told Blackmon they would take him some groceries.

“He was hungry,” Hinson said. “I’ve been hungry. A lot of people can’t say that, but I can, and I can’t stand for anyone to be hungry.”

Blackmon told Hinson that all he wanted was a head of cabbage, some cans of beans and beets, some popcorn, tomato juice, and soft drinks.

With her supervisor’s permission, Hinson went to the grocery store and bought groceries. Then, with the help of Fayetteville police officers, she delivered the food in person to Blackmon.

She made Blackmon a ham sandwich, which he called a feast. She also made him a couple more sandwiches for later on.

Blackmon called it a blessing.

“It was like a little miracle ringing in my ear,” Blackmon said. “I thought, ‘Jesus, you answered those prayers!'”

After Blackmon’s story aired,¬†calls and donations came in by the hundreds…

ABC11 Together and people across the country are helping a starving veteran in Fayetteville who was in need of food.

Clarence BlackmonThe day after his story aired, Blackmon’s phone hasn’t stopped ringing with people offering food and help.

“‘What do you want me to bring,'” recalled Blackmon. “I even ordered roasted chicken. She said ‘fine, that’s fine.'”

That joy was a far cry from his desperate 911 call for help 24 hours earlier.

“We had numerous calls, emails, folks calling us directly, calling the call center, calling 911 saying, ‘How can we help Mr. Blackmon,'” said Fayetteville Officer Antoine Kincade.

Many asked how Blackmon could wind up in this situation. ABC11 asked DSS officials that same question. The director said they only became aware of Blackmon’s plight when we told them. The private rehab center that discharged Blackmon failed to notify DSS officials that he was going home.

A DSS social worker spent several hours with Blackmon Wednesday. They are now taking care of his needs. As for the donations, Blackmon asked that they go to the Salvation Army to help others.

“I want everyone that goes hungry, or lives under a bridge, at least they can go to the Salvation Army. They can get some good food,” said Blackmon.

Blackmon said he is truly blessed by all the help.

Now that’s a perfect example of paying it forward!