Within eight hours of a homeless veteran being discovered sleeping outside in freezing temperatures, the community of Troy, Illinois, located on the outskirts of St. Louis, banded together to give the man a fresh start.
Troy resident Michelle Noyes and her family were driving around town Wednesday morning amidst this week’s record-setting cold when they spotted what looked to be a sleeping bag on the ground. Inside was homeless Marine veteran William Bozman.
“It made me feel awful, thinking about someone out in the cold like that,” recalls Noyes. “His face was so, so red from the cold … when he took his head out of the sleeping bag, I could see how cold and miserable he was.
Noyes and her family got the man a hot chocolate from Dunkin’ Donuts and then went home where she shared her story about Bozman on the Facebook page: Out and About in Troy, Illinois.
In no time at all, the community of Troy responded. People brought him food and water, as well as warm clothes to help him stand up to the cold.
As it turns out, Bozman was in the process of hitchhiking from California to New York City. His last ride had dropped him off about 20 miles from Troy. He walked to a truck stop there in search of a ride but couldn’t find one, which is why he was sleeping on the ground in freezing temperatures.
In addition to giving him food and clothing, the people of Troy raised more than $500 to help Bozman afford a bus ticket to New York. By Wednesday night, he was on a bus heading to New York with a backpack of supplies and some spending money.
“In the span of a few hours, he went from freezing and hungry to full and happy and with a bus ticket and a few hundred bucks in his pocket,” said Tony Hilker of Making A Difference, a nonprofit group in Illinois that helps homeless people. “To see the community of Troy come together like that, that was really cool to see.”