A homeless man in Virginia says he is overwhelmed with the support he has received from across the country after making a simple Thanksgiving wish.
Neal Shytles says he has more bad days than good. For Thanksgiving, he wants it to be a good day.
“It hurts me to be alone, no family or no one around,” he told WTKR.
Union Mission has been Shytles home for the last year-and-a-half. With no family nearby, he feels especially alone during the holidays.
That all changed when the news channel shared his wish to spend Thanksgiving with a family. Right after the broadcast, email after email poured in from all over the country from people offering help to a homeless man they never met.
“It was like bam, bam. Just one good thing after another,” Shytles said. “I was just so happy you know.”
A local military family in Newport News were the first to reach out for Shytles. With everything planned out, Ashley and Cory McLemore will drive down to Norfolk on Thanksgiving morning and pick him up at the Union Mission. He will spend the day with them for both lunch and dinner.
When the couple and Shytles spoke on the phone, making the arrangements, Ashley said, “He started crying, then I started crying. Then we both started crying.”
“Because we are military, I identify with not being around family, and not being with family over the holidays so it kind of struck a chord with me,” Ashley said of Shytles’ situation.
“It is my favorite holiday,” said Cory, Ashley’s husband. “Anyone is welcome.”
Linda Jones, a spokeswoman for the Union Mission, said this news has been great for the organization.
“This is helping people from across the country to open their hearts and help those in need,” she said. “I think Neal has put a real face on who the homeless are and that they are not what people think. They are human, just like the rest of us.”
As for Shytles, he is elated that his wish is about to come true. To the McLemores, he says, “I love you and your husband even though I haven’t met you. Thank you so much. It means a lot to me.”