Donations Pour In for Homeless Man Who Returned Diamond Ring
By Dana Ford, CNN
(CNN) — Talk about good karma.
Well-wishers from around the world are opening their wallets to a homeless man who returned a diamond engagement ring to its rightful owner, after she accidentally dropped it in his donation cup.
“I actually feel like I’m especially lucky to have this ring now. I loved it before. I loved it so much, but I love it so much more now. I feel like it has such great karma,” Sarah Darling told CNN’s “Starting Point with Soledad O’Brien.”
Darling, who is from Kansas City, Missouri, said she was devastated when she realized she’d lost her ring.
She almost never takes it off, but it was giving her a bit of a rash so she did, zipping it in her coin purse for safe keeping.
Later, she absentmindedly emptied the contents of that purse into the collection cup of Billy Ray Harris, who is homeless and often stays under a bridge in Darling’s hometown.
It wasn’t until the next day that she realized her ring was gone.
“It was horrible. It was such a feeling of loss,” Darling said. “It meant so much to me beyond just the financial value.”
She went back to look for Harris, but he was gone. She returned the next day and found him.
“I asked him … ‘I don’t know if you remember me, but I think I gave you something that’s very precious to me,’ and he says, ‘Was it a ring? Yeah, I have it, I kept it for you,'” Darling said.
She was floored.
To show their appreciation, Darling and her husband set up an online fundraiser for Harris. The donations and praise have poured in.
“In life what goes around comes around… Billy – your sweet actions, despite being in dire straits yourself, prove that there is humility in the world… you are one shining example. Lots of love from across the pond,” wrote Chris and Mel, from Brentwood, England, on the giveforward.com site, which is collecting money. They gave $20.
“I am from Singapore and I greatly am grateful for your honesty!” wrote Ophelia Wong Zen-na, who gave $10.
Brian Paul also gave $10.
“If I wasn’t jobless I would give much more, but felt compelled to do something. Billy Ray do your best to become what you’ve always dreamed you could be. Its never too late. God Bless and thanks for never loosing your character in tough times,” he wrote.
So far, in about a week, more than 4,155 donations have been made, totaling more than $108,000. The money will be given to Harris at the end of a 90-day campaign.
In an update Saturday, Darling’s husband, Bill Krejci, called the response “unreal.”
Krejci met with Harris to tell him about the flood of donations and to get to know him better. They went together to make some repairs to Harris’ bike.
“We talked about a lot of things related to my family’s ring and the many donations. We talked about one day in the future the ring may one day be passed down to my daughter,” Krejci wrote on the website. “We talked about how insanely positive all this has been.”
Harris told Krejci that he has found a place to stay where he is “safe and sound.”
CNN affiliate KCTV caught up with Harris and asked him how he felt about all the attention he’s attracted since returning the ring.
“I like it, but I don’t think I deserve it,” he said.
“What I actually feel like is, ‘what has the world come to when a person who returns something that doesn’t belong to him and all this happens?'” Harris said.
But for her part, Darling said she is just grateful for what he did. Many others, she said, would have kept the ring, or sold it.
“I really just hope that my kind of flightiness in that moment leads to something really good for him,” she said.