A priceless gift: Officer gives homeless family new beginning

Published: Dec. 16, 2016 at 7:05 PM EST|Updated: Dec. 16, 2016 at 10:29 PM EST
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WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - The holiday season isn't the most joyful time for everyone, especially for members of the homeless community. One family spent the past three years struggling with homelessness and expected this Christmas to be a sad one, just like the past two years.

"I thought it was going to be a sad Christmas, a bad year for us," said Jonathan Leber, father to three children. "We just kept our heads up, never gave up, and stayed strong."

Leber said his family's troubles started about three years ago when his car broke down and he had no way to get to work. He was let go of his job and with no other place to turn, his family lost their home.

Over the years the Leber family grew accustomed to searching for homeless shelters, begging for money and using what little they gathered to pay for a night or two in a hotel room. But their luck changed this year in early September after an officer found them on the side of the road begging for money.

"Here comes Megan driving down the side of the road," said Leber. "Instead of giving us a ticket she offered to help us and got us into a hotel room for a couple weeks."

Officer Megan O'Bryan with the Wilmington Police Department didn't stop there. She helped the Leber family apply for Section 8 housing and raised donations to cover the deposits and furniture for their new home.

"These kids love each other and they love their parents and they love their brothers. There's rich families that don't have what they have," said O'Bryan. "I just felt they deserved what I was able to do for them."

Friday morning, the Leber family and Officer O'Bryan reunited to do some Christmas shopping as part of the Santa Cop event hosted by WPD. Police officers gathered donations to pay for a trip to the Walmart toy section with underprivileged families.

"We didn't know what we were going to do for Christmas and this right here," said Leber as he points to the cart full of toys. Their happiness, their smiles makes me smile."

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