NEW YORK, N.Y. (USA Today) - A photo of a New York City police officer giving new boots to a barefoot homeless man in Times Square has created an online sensation.
The NYPD posted the photo of Officer Lawrence DePrimo kneeling to help the man put on the boots to the department's Facebook page. By Thursday evening, the photo had been shared more than 140,000 times, "liked" more than 420,000 times and received 31,000 comments.
Jennifer Foster of Florence, Ariz., says she was visiting Times Square with her boyfriend on Nov. 14 when they saw a shoeless man asking for change. As she approached the man, she said a police officer came onto the scene. Foster, a civilian dispatch manager with the Pinal County Sheriff's Office, took a photo and forwarded it and a note to the NYPD.
"Right when I was about to approach, one of your officers came up behind him. The officer said, 'I have these size 12 boots for you, they are all-weather. Let's put them on and take care of you.' 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. I have been in law enforcement for 17 years. I was never so impressed in my life. I did not get the officer's name. It is important, I think, for all of us to remember the real reason we are in this line of work. The reminder this officer gave to our profession in his presentation of human kindness has not been lost on myself or any of the Arizona law enforcement officials with whom this story has been shared."
Officer DePrimo, 25, who joined the department in 2010, was shocked at the attention, The New York Times reports.
"It was freezing out and you could see the blisters on the man's feet," DePrimo said in an interview. "I had two pairs of socks and I was still cold." They started talking; he found out the man's shoe size: 12, the Times reports.
DePrimo went into a Skechers shoe store at about 9:30 p.m.
"We were just kind of shocked," said Jose Cano, 28, a store manager who used his employee discount to cut the price of the $100 boots. "Most of us are New Yorkers and we just kind of pass by that kind of thing. Especially in this neighborhood."
DePrimo told the Times that he keeps the receipt for the $75 boots in his vest to remind him ''that sometimes people have it worse.''
DePrimo credited his grandfather for the good deed.
"The true inspiration was my grandfather, and he told me when I was much younger, 'If you are going to do something, do it 100 percent. And do it, or don't do it at all,'" DePrimo told CBS News. "And I think that stuck with me my entire life."
See CNN's video report above for more on this story.
Natalie DiBlasio, USA Today