Kimberly Cook was busy restocking her grocery store one morning when her gaze was drawn to a little girl for the first time. Every day, she’d be there at the same time, collecting leftovers from the charity section outside the store – a bin where people frequently left food packets for the homeless – and would run away after filling a large bag with leftovers.
Kimberly thought the girl frequented there with someone, but she soon realized she was always alone. Furthermore, the 5-year-old was well-dressed and did not appear like someone who’d be eating leftovers. So she decided to approach her one day.
“Hello there! My name is Kimberly. I notice you come here frequently. What’s your name?”
The little girl looked terrified. Then she asked, “May I take some food from here? Please?”
“Of course, you can, sweetie. But I was just….” Before Kimberly could finish her sentence, the little girl turned away from her and began filling her bag.
Kimberly sighed. “You know if you need any help, I could help you. Are you alone at home? Are your parents sick?”
A little vigilance can save someone’s life.
But the little girl ignored her as if she hadn’t heard her. “Sorry, I have to go,” she said then ran away with her bag full of food packets.
Kimberly had an unsettling feeling that something wasn’t right, so the next day, she waited for the girl to arrive. A few minutes later, she noticed she was at the bin again, collecting leftovers.
Kimberly waited for her to finish collecting food, and when she saw the girl leave, she asked her store manager to look after the store and quietly followed the girl in her car at a safe distance so she wouldn’t notice her.
She noticed her happily strolling through the streets, swinging the bag of food and turning into an alley. Kimberly waited for her to reach the end of the alley before driving into it. When she got to the end, she noticed the girl taking another turn, this time in a narrower alley where her car wouldn’t fit.
She got down from her car and began to follow the girl on foot. She noticed they were in a desolate area with nothing but dark, dingy old houses that hadn’t been repaired in months, if not years.
The little girl walked to the far end of the neighborhood until she came to a crop-filled field. She crossed the field and then came to a halt at an abandoned garage. What the hell? Why would a young girl like her come all the way here? Kimberly wondered.
Suddenly, she saw the garage door open, and two figures emerged from inside. One was a boy who appeared to be even younger than the girl, and the other was a small dog that did not appear to be in good health.
Kimberly approached the garage to speak with the children, but when the girl turned around and saw her, she grabbed the little boy and they dashed inside, pulling down the shutter after.
“I’m not here to hurt you. I’m here to help you,” Kimberly called out. “That’s why I am waiting for you to come out. I can come inside if I want, but I don’t want to scare you, okay?”
Then the little girl spoke up. “No, we’re not coming out. You will call the police. Please go.”
“Police?” Kimberly was puzzled. “No, I won’t. I promise. Will you come out now?”
There was a brief moment of silence before the girl emerged. “Where are the little boy and the dog?” Kimberly asked her.
The little girl began to tear up. “Please don’t take them away from me. I’m Jason’s big sister. My mommy told me to look after him. My name is Stacey. We also have a dog. His name is Timmy.”
“Please don’t cry, Stacey. I’ll help you and your brother. Where is your mom?”
“Mommy and daddy went to the angel,” she said as she wiped her tears. “So we ran away from home and came here. Mrs. Green said that because mommy and daddy died in a fire, the police will get us and send us to a new place. But I don’t want that!”
A sharp pain ran through Kimberly hearing the little girl talk about the death of their parents. “Stacey, when did that happen? And how long have you been living here?” she asked gently.
“It happened last week. We were playing outside….and then there was a fire in our house. Mommy and daddy were taken to the hospital, but they never came back….”
Kimberly just couldn’t help but feel for the poor girl and her brother. “Listen, Stacey. You can come with me. I promise I won’t call the police. I’ll take care of you and Jacob and make sure you’re never separated. And let’s take Timmy to a vet, okay? He looks sick.”
“Really?” Stacey’s eyes widened. “Do you promise Jacob and Timmy will live with me?”
“I promise you, Stacey. Come, let’s go. You will come with me, right?”
The little girl nodded then asked her brother and the dog to come out of the garage. Kimberly brought them home, fed them, then took Timmy to the veterinarian. When her husband, Josh, returned home, she told him what happened, and he suggested they call the cops.
“Darling, how can you just bring them here? I know you feel bad for them, but we can’t just keep them. What if the cops are on the lookout for them?”
“I understand, Josh, but we can talk to Sandra. We were planning on adopting anyway, so why not just take these two kids in? Please. Sandra is a social worker, and she can help us with this. And we can inform the cops, but we’ll have to do so in secret because you know how terrified the kids are of them.”
“All right, then. But we’re going to call the cops and Sandra first thing the next morning.”