James Schweikhard walks his daughter to school every day, but something started to seem amiss about his trek and child when school administrators looked a little closer at the pair. The girl’s elementary school called the police who tracked the father down to his truck and were taken aback by what they found inside.
The 41-year-old had recently left Oklahoma and turned up in Lakewood, Colorado with his 10-year-old daughter, but their situation wasn’t an average relocation, like what many families make over the summer. James said he had to flee his home state because it was a bigger risk to stay there than to start anew in the Denver metro area. It didn’t take long for him to run into cops, who were about to change the course of his day when they looked inside his ride.
The two have been living in Colorado since August when James started taking his daughter to school. After several weeks of going to and from campus, administrators started to worry about what was going on behind the scenes with the child. One day after dropping her off, James returned to his parked truck and found it surrounded by Lakewood police who were searching inside.
“I saw them looking at my truck, I said, ‘Officers, what is going on?’” James said. “[He] said ‘We’re trying to help you.’ I said ‘Ok, I can accept that.’” James added that it was an odd occurrence since he’s not used to getting help from cops.
James and his little girl had been living in his truck which was jam-packed of all their belongings, after running out of Oklahoma in search of a better life. “I packed everything up that we own in the truck there and we just drove here,” he said. “It was more of a risk staying in Oklahoma. I couldn’t get a job for anything, couldn’t get a place to live.”
The homeless family was just trying to survive, but just when things were starting to look up, James’ truck broke down. He had been driving his daughter to school, and it became obvious to campus personnel that the vehicle was more than a ride, it was also their home. They alerted local authorities out of concern for the young student who they suspected was living out of a vehicle.
Once the vehicle became inoperable, James had no choice but to walk the girl to and from school each day, so she didn’t miss out on her education. Unfortunately, not having reliable transportation also cost him his job, 9 News reported.
Lakewood Police Officer James Butler was on the scene, investigating the school’s call when he started talking to James and learned about the heart-wrenching ordeal he and his daughter had endured. Butler didn’t just listen, he decided to act, and he did so with an urgency out of compassion for this man and his child. He immediately got the family into a shelter and a tow truck to transport their car to Sun Valley Automotive, who offered their repair services for free.
“It was the right thing to do,” Butler said. “Because at any point in time in our lives anyone of us can be in that same situation offering assistance to another human being is the right thing to do.”
The cop’s good deeds didn’t end there. Butler and others at the Lakewood police department are actively doing everything they can to get this man and his child into permanent housing faster. James is touched that anyone, especially a cop, would go to this length for the least of those in their community. “I think it’s awesome, I think it’s really cool, very unexpected, but very cool,” the appreciative father said.
We all have the ability to help others in need and we may be the one who could use that compassion at some time in life. From the automotive shop and the tow company, both of whom offered their services for free, to Butler who orchestrated it all, each one of these people stepped up for a family that had been knocked down. We can all do something, big or small, all acts of kindness make an immeasurable difference in people’s lives.