Sunday, September 8, 2013

Samaritan Sunday (September 8, 2013)

[If you should choose to adopt this prompt to contribute your own stories of folks who have gone out of their way to lend genealogy-related assistance to others, I would greatly appreciate a mention to Filiopietism Prism whenever you do so.  Thank you!  And please do use the same photograph below to illustrate the prompt.  ;-) ]

Sarah Darling of Kansas City, Missouri was in the Country Club Plaza in Kansas City last February when she noticed a man who was panhandling.  It was winter and the man looked like he needed some help, so Sarah very kindly went over to him and emptied her coin purse into his cup.  Later that day when Billy Ray Harris was examining the contents of his cup from a day of panhandling to keep body and soul together, he noticed a ring in his cup.  A big ring.  An expensive looking ring.

Billy Ray had no idea how the ring ended up in his cup, and he had no way of knowing if it was put in there intentionally or by accident.  He had no way of knowing who the kind person was who had deposited the ring in his cup.  He took the ring to a local jeweler and he admits he briefly considered selling it when the jeweler offered him $4,000 for the ring. 

Mr. Harris had been homeless for quite some time and he had not seen his family in something like 16 years.  Then last February he did something that many people might not think a man in his situation would do.  He did the right thing.  He did a good deed.  He became a Good Samaritan to a complete stranger who inadvertently suffered a huge financial and emotional loss trying to be very kind and helpful to Billy Ray.  Mr. Harris decided to hold on to the valuable ring in the hope that the real owner would come back for it.

A couple of days after giving all her change to Billy Ray Harris, Sarah Darling realized she had misplaced her engagement ring.  She was frantic.  The ring was very expensive, yes, but it was also much more symbolic and was to be a lifelong possession that she probably would want to pass on to her descendants as a family heirloom.  She was distraught trying to figure out how she lost the ring . . . where she lost the ring.  She thought hard on when and where she last knew she had it.  And then it dawned on her.  She had taken the ring off and placed it in her coin purse the other day -- the day she had emptied her coin purse into the cup of a man who was panhandling at Country Club Plaza.  She went back to the Plaza and found Billy Ray Harris.  Hopeful, Sarah bent down beside Mr. Harris and gently told him she thought she might have accidentally given him something a few days earlier that very valuable and very important to her.  He immediately asked her, "Was it a ring?"

In April, Billy Ray Harris appeared on the Today show and was surprised when he was suddenly reunited with four of his siblings who had learned about his good deed in holding Sarah's ring until she could find him again so he could return it to her.  But it was not only a reunion with his family that Billy Ray got for doing the right thing.  Sarah had given him all the cash she had in her wallet when he gave her back her engagement ring. And the story does not end there.  

A kind act to a stranger in need, led to the stranger with many needs doing a kindness for the stranger.  A Good Samaritan begat another Good Samaritan.  Sarah has her precious ring to cherish for a lifetime and to pass on to her descendants.  Billy Ray has his family back and he also has  -- well you really have to go here to read the rest of the story, see a photo of Mr. Harris, and learn what Sarah and her husband did after Sarah got her engagement ring back!      
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Photograph of the The Good Samaritan sculpture by Francois-Leon Sicard (1862 - 1934).  The sculpture is located in the Tuileries Gardens in Paris, France.  The photograph is by Marie-Lan Nguyen and has been placed in the public domain by her. See,
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Copyright 2013, John D. Tew
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  1. I just wanted to tell you how much I enjoy your Samaritan Sunday stories. They brighten my week, and it is so nice to read some good news. Each story helps restore faith in humanity, while the media focuses on trivial or negative events.

  2. Hi Heather! Thank you so much for letting me know that you enjoy the Samaritan Sunday series. You and Jana Last are the only ones to comment on the series so far (you also commented on the August 4th post about a lost high school class ring), but I like to think others have enjoyed them too and just have not taken the time to comment. I understand that everyone is very busy these days and reading and commenting is not always possible, so when they happen, they are special.

    I know my older son reads the blog and Samaritan Sunday often because he is the one who found and suggested to me the story used in the post on August 25th.

    I enjoy searching out the stories and writing about them for the same reason you and Jana have expressed -- it restores faith in humanity and shows that family artifacts and heirlooms are recognized as very important by others who then go out of their way (like the Good Samaritan) to help restore the items to strangers or the families of strangers. I would be thrilled to see other genealogy bloggers finding and sharing such good news stories - as you said, all too often the media focuses on violent, negative, or trivial events, so good news is a welcome break and relief!

    Thanks again for your comments, they are really appreciated!