Sofia Andrade is on disability and she has three young children, so when she won $200 from a scratch-off lottery ticket, she knew the money could help. Then she saw a homeless man out in the cold on one of the most frigid days of the year and she knew it would help him more.
“And I was like ‘Where are you going? Can I buy you a cup of coffee?’” Andrade, 28, told ABC News in a Tuesday interview, of the Saturday encounter in New Bedford, Massachusetts. “I knew when I saw him that I’d been given this money to help him.”
Not only did she buy Glenn Williams that promised cup of coffee, but she also drove him to an area motel where she used her winnings to pay for a three-night stay.
Mahesh Patel, the manager at the Rosewood Motel in East Wareham, told ABC News that he was initially reluctant to rent a room to Williams because he didn’t have any identification. Patel said Andrade told him the man was her uncle and offered her own ID.
Patel said he “made an exception” because of the bitter cold. He said he also gave her a discount on the room -- charging her $60 per night instead of the regular $65.
Andrade acknowledged that she did claim Williams was her uncle.
“I did. I did,” she told ABC News. “I could not leave him outside.”
According to AccuWeather.com, the high temperature in New Bedford was 25 degrees on Saturday.
In an interview at the motel with ABC News Boston affiliate WCBV-TV, Williams cried when he described Andrade’s kindness.
“I couldn’t believe there’s somebody like her,” he said. “She deserves a lot of the credit for where I am right now.”
Andrade’s Facebook post about Williams’ plight has gone viral, with many people praising her for her selflessness.
Andrade has set up a Go Fund Me account to collect money for Williams. As of Tuesday night, the fund had raised $13,210, nearly three times the original goal of $5,000.
Some people even went to the motel to try to help Williams. Patel told ABC News that people kept knocking on Williams’ door to offer him items. The attention made the man uncomfortable, Patel said.
Andrade said she moved Williams to another location which she declined to identify, citing the man’s request for privacy.
“He’s still wrapping his head around it,” she said of Williams’ response to the money raised through the fund. “He knows that it’s there and he knows that when he’s ready that money is completely ... you know, it’s his. It’s his money.”
Williams told WCBV-TV that he was “overwhelmed” by all the help, which included donations of warm weather wear and even a Valentine’s Day card.
“There’s a lot of good people in this world ... and I just want to thank everybody,” he said.
Andrade said she has taken Williams to get official identification as well as health insurance. Eventually, she’ll help him apply for housing.
A friend, Elizabeth Arone, gave Williams a haircut and has been helping her to pick up the donations which have been “pouring in” for Williams, Andrade added.
Saying Williams is “dealing with his own demons,” Andrade said the money would offer him a second chance.
“He’s been given an amazing opportunity to change his life and he doesn’t want to squander it,” she said. “He just doesn’t.”