When security officers found a 19-year-old sleeping in a tent on a college campus, they became the first to help, but, soon everyone in town was opening their heart and wallet for Fred Barley.
The homeless student had packed everything he owned into a pair of duffle bags and ridden a small 20-inch bicycle for six-hours in 100 degree heat to get to school. He was registered for his second semester at Gordon College in Barnesville, Georgia and wanted to beat other students into town before all the part-time jobs were taken.
When campus police officers found him, and heard his story, they wanted to help. The officers put him up for two nights in a motel and the college offered to let him move into his dorm room the following Monday.
But that was just the beginning. When one of the cops told the story to his wife, she shared it on social media and the community started offering help—one person in particular, Casey Blaney. She sought him out at the motel room and his story touched him so much that she went around town and found employment for him, herself.
He’s now a dishwasher at a pizza parlor and needed shorts and shirts for the job, so she took him shopping.
That didn’t satisfy Casey’s desire to help, so she set up a GoFundMe page Tuesday, “Success for Fred”, that has raised nearly $40,000 for the student by this morning. Donations of clothes, shoes, a new bike — even talk of buying him a car — started pouring in.
A community Facebook page has posts from people as far away as Michigan and Texas offering help, including free dental care and attorney fees to set up a trust fund so Barley’s money will go toward his education.
“In spite of all the sorrow, sadness, violence and hatred in today’s world….it’s touching to see so many people come together for this young man,” Gina Oakley wrote on the page. “Fred…you are an inspiration to many. Best of luck to you, and may all your dreams come true. You are truly loved.”
In a video thanking people for all their help, the student says he “can’t come up with even half the words” to express his thanks. “I love you all.”
Before his trip to the school, Fred had been living in a tent 50 miles away. He saw a college education as his way out of homelessness, thinking about it this way:
“I can take it out there, and sleep in a tent without a job, or I can come down here and do something and apply my life and make something better for it,” he told WAGA News.
(WATCH the video below from WAGA News) — Photo: WAGA