Today I saw a post in a Facebook group: some clothes had been lost along MLK and Allie Payne.
We’ve all seen posts like these, something falls out of a vehicle, and sometimes we just scroll right by them. But what caught my eye was the tone of the post. The woman who wrote it was desperate for the return of her son’s clothes – the box had fallen out of the vehicle contained her six-year-old son’s clothes, including new ones just bought for his first day of school on Monday.
At the bottom of the post the importance of these clothes became even more clear – she was offering a $300 reward.
All I could do in this situation was to share the post to some online groups, hoping that someone would see it and either return the clothes as the act of a good human, or that the reward offer would at least bring them back.
Not five minutes after I shared it, an instant message popped up.
“Can you find out about this lady’s situation? I want to buy her son some clothes.”
That message was from Heidi Hyder, owner of Pink Rooster Treasures in Orange.
Lacy Melancon was the woman who had made the original post.
“All of my son’s clothes were in that box. New clothes my mother had bought him for school, and all of his other clothes,” she’d told me when I called the number she’d left online. Lacy’s mother had been driving her SUV on MLK when the back door sprang open, and the box tumbled out. Shortly after, another car immediately pulled over and picked up the box.
I didn’t know Lacy, but with a six-year-old’s first day of school at stake, and such a generous offer from Heidi, I told her of the offer and got her son’s sizes. Lacy, dealing with all of this on top of being sick, was overwhelmed with gratitude.
Meanwhile, Heidi texted her friend and coworker, Robin Milstead: “We have mission.”
For hours, texts and phone calls flew furiously among the four of us.
Within hours of Lacy’s post, we all gathered at The Pink Rooster: Robin, Heidi, Lacy’s mother, Tammy Melancon, and little Destin, who seemed shy at all of this attention.
Robin pulled out item after item of clothing from shopping bags: tiny basketball shorts, pants, shirts and socks. Heidi slipped me some money to give to Lacy: “For anything we missed.”
Little Destin seemed overwhelmed at all the clothes on the table, but his shyness among strangers lifted when he was told he could pick out candy for himself and his one-year-old sister Jaylee, at the candy bar in the store.
“I have a soft spot for kids,” Robin said. “I didn’t grow up with much, so I always want to help anyway I can, now that I can.”
I thanked Robin and hugged Heidi, overwhelmed by their generosity.
Heidi wanted to be sure I wrote this article to give credit to Robin and her crew, and as a tribute to the Rooster customers.
“Because of them, we can do this.”
Heidi, Robin, and all of the girls at The Pink Rooster have always been gracious and kind, and they have all been through so much: their last store was destroyed by Hurricane Laura exactly a year ago. And after rebuilding and reopening, it was struck again by the ice storm this year, forcing Heidi to move to the new location on Edgar Brown Drive.
Heidi herself has not only faced natural disasters to her business, but the loss of her beloved mom earlier this year.
As little Destin smiles as I take his picture in front of the candy bar, none of these things go unnoticed by me. My heart is full and I have tears in my eyes.
Because this is why I love this town and this county. Despite multiple disasters in just a few short years, and despite a virus and closed businesses, our humanity prevails. Our neighbors, and even strangers, stand up together and help one another, especially during our darkest times.
You think you know what Orange County is about? I’ll tell you. This is what Orange County is about.