Rewarding Our Taco Bell Superhero: By the Numbers

In case you aren’t familiar, a local Taco Bell employee here in Pittsburg went out of his way to help a homeless man not just get comfortable, but bought him food and helped him figure out how to apply for a job. This was brought to everyone’s attention through the post of a local patron that day:

Tonight we ate at taco bell and as we were trying to figure out what to order there was a guy who walked out of the…

Posted by Amanda Vanderford on Thursday, September 13, 2018

This was a big deal to me. I don’t know Brandon. I’ve crossed paths with him once in the drive thru (I don’t actually eat a lot of Taco Bell). But clearly tons of other people knew him, knew of his love for his job, and their days were made a little bit better by running into him as they were driving through. That is a rare commodity by itself. When combined with naked compassion for another, something else becomes apparent. Something very special that I think we need to see more of and give greater respect to.

In the fourstateshomepage.com article, Brandon said:

My grandma Kelly raised me to do that and I think people should treat people that don’t have much better, than they are now. So I try to help people when I can.

Brandon Stephenson, fourstateshomepage.com

I’m left at a bit of a loss. My grandmother, too, would have wanted me to treat people that way. And I can only hope that I’m doing her as proud Brandon’s should be of him. Maybe if we all acted a bit more in a way that would make our grandmothers proud, things might be better all around. I’ve always been a big fan of something John Wooden said:

The true test of a man’s character is what he does when no one is watching.

John Wooden

A lot of character was on display this weekend though through all the people that came together to make today happen. When I offered to start collecting for a gift to reward him for doing a good deed, I intentionally just left it on my Facebook, thinking the people who knew me there would trust me and know I’d do right by it. I wasn’t looking to do anything over the top, just something to acknowledge that what he did was important. GoFundMe felt weird – to be asking strangers to give me money for someone I don’t know, and to just trust me because I say so. That didn’t feel right to me, and I thought this approach was, I dunno, more personal. None the less, people stepped up in spades. People I knew, and people I didn’t. Locals, and those from far away. So what happened? Here’s the overall breakdown (and the total gift list will be at the bottom).

By the Numbers

A whole lot of last minute work went together to make this happen. It was a busy weekend, with a lot of messages, questions, and discussions. And I won’t lie, some of it was very much flying by the seat of my pants. I’ve told several folks, somewhere along this journey, I became a very small man trying to guide a pretty big snowball downhill.

Here’s what that generated:

1145 – The number of dollars we raised to reward Brandon with
135
– The amount raised by one group in particular
85
– The amount donated by the highest contributor
60 – The number of contributions that were made
18 – The number of Pittsburg locals that contributed
11 – The number of states outside of Kansas where contributions came from
4 – Ways I used to collect the gifts
3 – Businesses that helped
2 – The number of days we took to pull it all together

I mean, what do you even say? We live in a world where we cynically throw around the phrase “no good deed goes unpunished” regularly. But that doesn’t need to be true. We can’t reward every good deed. Sometimes kindness does need to be its own reward. But once in a while? Once in a while we absolutely can reward a good deed, and I’m incredibly proud to live in a town where we have people like Brandon to do that for.

Brandon makes Pittsburg better. The people that contributed, whether they’re from here, or only knew about this from a share on Facebook, make Pittsburg better. Small acts add up, and this shows how a lot of small acts added up to something incredible to reward a young man that was only doing the thing his grandma would have wanted. All it takes to change someone’s day is to make the decision to do something.

For folks who have been watching, and those that contributed, here’s the breakdown of everything that came in. I wanted to be sure I was totally transparent in everything that was contributed. Some of the locations might be a tad fuzzy or missing in some cases, because I simply didn’t know, or there was limited information to work with. If you’re looking for your initials, be mindful if your account had a different name from the one that sent the donation too, as that might make it different here.