If you’ve been losing faith in humanity Phil Powell will help you believe again. The generous Walmart employee went viral when a customer snapped and posted a photo of him giving a homeless man the shoes off his own feet. Powell then continued to work, greeting Walmart customers in his yellow Walmart vest and pink socks. While his charity warmed the hearts of many, it’s his story that really stood out.
The good deed was indeed done from the kindness of his heart, but it wasn’t all that random. The New Manchester High School student was also homeless for most of his life. When he saw the man walking barefoot, he glanced down at the converses on his feet and saw his own story. Coming from nothing, he was once gifted the converses because of his good grades. Later on the generous teenager found out his godmother was struggling with breast cancer and dyed the sneakers pink in support of her. Regardless of the turbulent stories the sneakers held, he knew it was time they had a new journey.
“It’s not an easy lifestyle,” he told Fox News. “I was homeless from third until the 11th grade it was just in and out of hotels, shelters, cars.”
Powell’s mother, Brenda Patterson, fled to Georgia seven years ago with Powell and his siblings to escape from domestic violence. She feared the kind of men her own sons would become if she stayed in that toxic environment, and raised them on her own the best she could. “I tried to keep no matter what we went through, I kept them in school, and I kept them in church,” she shared. “But there were a lot of nights I just didn’t know what to do, how to do it, when to do it.”
Today the family is no longer homeless, but Powell still remembers the difference a good deed from someone made for him when he was living on the streets. “It meant everything to me,” he continued. “If somebody gave me anything I will always cherish and make sure it’s clean and neat because I know how much it meant to people.”
Today Powell is not only no-longer homeless, but popular throughout social media.
You the man Phil Powell.
— Tomy (@Tmurphy1045) August 3, 2016