A Moving Act of Kindness

A New York City police car

This is a story about someone who did the right thing — with no thought of any personal reward.

In fact, it actually cost him $75.

But in the end, it gained him something much more valuable– the respect and admiration of people around the world.

Lawrence DePrimo is a New York City police officer.

He’s paid to watch out for bad guys.

But on a cold November night in Times Square, he spotted someone else — a homeless man.

Barefoot.

“It was freezing out,” Officer DePrimo told the New York Times.  “I had two pairs of socks and I was still cold.”

Unfortunately, homeless people are an all-too-familiar sight in New York City.

Most people just walk on by.

But not Officer DePrimo.

He went up to the man and asked for the man’s shoes size.

“Size 12,” the man reportedly said.

There was a shoe store nearby.

So Officer DePrimo walked in, picked out a pair of size 12 boots and some warm socks, and went to pay for them — out of his own pocket.

The boots were reportedly worth $100.

But according to the Times, a guy who works at the store gave Officer DePrimo an employee discount.

That brought the price down to $75.

That’s still a lot of money for a young guy who’s only been a police officer for a couple of years.

But according to Officer DePrimo, it wasn’t about the money.

“(It) was something I had to do,” he told the Associated Press (AP).

When Officer DePrimo came back outside with the boots, he caught the attention of a tourist from Arizona named Jennifer Foster.

Her father was reportedly a police officer as well.

And she says she remembers him helping the homeless, too.

“I have these size 12 boots for you,” she remembers Officer DePrimo telling the man, according to AP reporter Deepti Hajela.  “Let’s put them on and take care of you.”

“It was remarkable,” she told NBC News.

Officer DePrimo says he had no idea Foster was watching — or that she took a picture of what she saw with her phone.

In fact, she was so impressed with Officer DePrimo’s actions that she forwarded that picture to the New York City Police Department.

According to the AP, Foster attached a note saying, “The officer squatted down on the ground and proceeded to put socks and the new boots on this man.  The officer expected NOTHING in return and did not know I was watching.”

As for Officer DePrimo, he had no idea anyone was watching — until the NYPD posted the picture on the Internet.

Almost immediately, it went “viral.”

By the end of November, hundreds of thousands of people had viewed it.

And many added comments such as, “An officer AND a gentleman” and “My respects to that fine officer.”

“People are saying that their faith in humanity is restored,” Officer DePrimo told NBC’ s “Today” show.  “That’s the biggest thing that I can take away from all this.”

According to New York City TV station WNBC, the man who got the boots is a military veteran who often panhandles for money in Times Square.

He and Officer DePrimo never really got to know one another that night.

But the officer says the man smiled “from ear to ear” when he saw the boots.

“This was the most polite gentleman I ever met,” Officer DePrimo told NBC’s “Today” show.  “I knew I had to help him.”

Officer DePrimo says he also offered to buy the man some food and coffee.

But he says the man politely refused and then went on his way — in his new $75 boots.

Officer DePrimo told the Times he keeps the receipt from the shoe store in his vest, “to remind me that sometimes, (other) people have it worse.”

“I really didn’t think about the money,” he told NBCÕs Savannah Guthrie.  “I said, ‘I don’t care what the price is.  We’ve just got to help him out.’”