Tulsa homeless man returns lost medical papers, story goes viral

TULSA, Okla. -  

By: Joe Henke, KJRH.com

Rayburn West is homeless. He said he has spent the last year on the streets of Tulsa. He spends his days looking for metal. Something he can turn into a quick dollar.

"Walk down the road with my shopping cart. I pick up cans, I pick up everything," West said.

This week, "everything" included medical documents, spread all over the road.

West said they looked important. He gathered them up and put them in a plastic shopping bag.

"It took me like a day or so to find her number,"  West said. "I knew I thought I had seen it as I was picking up stuff."

The papers belonged to Dr. Hollie Black.

"I had just gotten off of work," Hollie said. "I work at OSU downtown. I had met all of my family to eat dinner."

She left a bag filled with electronics and important medical paperwork in her car. Her husband, Luke, went out to the car after eating.

"We found this little delight," Luke said. "A Craftsman flathead screwdriver in the car seat."

The lock had been picked. Hollie's bag was gone.

She thought it was gone for good, then West called.

"It was a number that I didn't recognize," Hollie said. "It was a man saying that he had found a lot of my papers strewn around 11th Street."

The Blacks met West near downtown Tulsa. He had all of the paperwork for her in that plastic bag.

"He didn't want anything," Hollie said. "They stole my wallet so I didn't have a lot of cash left. I gave him what I had. He said thank you and God bless."

Hollie was able to give him $15. Her husband took a picture of the two.

It was raining out, so their meeting was brief, lasting just a few minutes. It was so short West didn't even give the Blacks his name.

Hollie said she wished she would have asked his name, but added that she was very grateful and wants to help him more. Luke said he has new winter coats he wants to give West before winter arrives.

Luke posted the picture of his wife and West on Reddit.

With the picture Luke wrote, "This homeless man found a bunch of my wife's stolen property strewn all over downtown Tulsa. He took the time to gather it all up in the rain and call us for retrieval. I just want to recognize him as an awesome human being."

Then it went viral.

Almost 60,000 people have 'upvoted' the story, the website's version of 'liking' a post.

Some posters on Reddit said that West spends time at the Tulsa Day Center.

After that people began posting that they were making donations to the center, and included screenshots of their online receipts. Donations ranged from $10-25. One was for as much as $340.

Another poster said they had ordered 144 individually wrapped toothbrushes.

Staff at the day center weren't available for an interview. But one staff member said they had received a call from as far away as London, England. The caller was wondering how they could help the center.

West doesn't use the Internet. When he found out about the donations to the center he was short on words.

"Thank you," West said. "I don't know what to think about it honestly. It is far out."

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