Two Los Angeles Police Department officers recently surprised a World War II veteran who was alone for the holidays with a Christmas tree, lights, presents and cheer.
Officers Able Torres and Natali Nunez first met 94-year-old Herman Perry last Friday when they responded to a call from Perry's neighbor Amy who was concerned for his welfare after she hadn't seen him in about a week, Nunez told ABC News today.
"Amy was aware he was recently released from a VA hospital due to an injury from a fall, so she was concerned when she hadn't heard from him as usual," Nunez said. "She tried calling, knocking on the apartment and getting touch with his niece over in Massachusetts, but no one had heard from him, so she was really concerned."
Nunez said she and Torres breathed a "heavy sigh of relief" when they entered his home and found Perry "sitting up wide-eyed and watching TV." It turned out that he hadn't been wearing his hearing aids and wasn't expecting any visitors since he had no nearby family and friends, she said.
The officer added that Perry was alone for the holidays and that his only family was on the other coast of the country.
After finishing their night patrol, they saw a Christmas tree lot across the station and were inspired to surprise Perry.
"It seemed like a great idea at the time, but we totally forgot it was 1 a.m.," she said. Luckily, the owners were still in the lot, and after hearing the officers' sweet surprise plan, he gave them a Christmas tree and lights to Perry and "refused to accept any payment."
The two cops went back to Perry's apartment, set up the tree and lights outside his door, Nunez said. She added that his neighbor Amy woke up and told them she would help with getting the tree to Perry in the morning.
But Nunez and Torres didn't stop there. They went back on Monday to check up on Perry and to deliver a few Christmas gifts -- clothes, slippers, crossword puzzles and cookies -- from some officers in the department, Nunez said.
The officers, along with Perry's neighbor Amy, also helped clean and spruce up the 94-year-old vet's place.
"It was quite endearing to see his surprised reaction," Nunez said. "After finding out he was 94 years old, a World War II vet living by himself, we just didn't feel OK just walking away. People like that, we owe our liberties and freedom to. They've sacrificed so much, so we thought we needed to give back to a veteran who did so much for us. We were quite happy to help him out."
The officers plan to collect more donations since the veteran's apartment still needs more repairs and clean-up. Nunez said that anyone interested in donating or helping out can email her at email@example.com.