When police received a report over the weekend of a tent pitched outside of Gordon State College in Barnesville, Georgia, they headed over and asked the occupant to come out with hands in sight, the Herald-Gazette reports.
Fred Barley, 19, emerged from the tent and told the officers his story, according to WSB-TV.
A homeless biology major who’d come to register for his second semester, Barley had pedaled a 20-inch bike six hours from Conyers in the scorching Georgia heat with just his tent, a few belongings, some water, and a box of cereal, setting up his tent until the dorms opened in August so he could look for a job.
The officers were stunned and brought him to a motel and paid for two nights. “I could tell he was a good kid … who had been dealt a bad hand,” Officer Dicky Carreker of the Gordon Police Department told the Herald-Gazette.
Carreker’s wife posted Barley’s story on a community Facebook page, and that’s when things really started to change for the student.
Not only does Barley now have a place to stay—the motel owner and a local resident, Casey Blaney, have paid for his stay through Monday, when the college will allow him to move into the dorms early—but he also now has a job at a local pizza joint and has been showered with gifts from strangers, including a new bike, clothes, and school supplies.
Blaney also started a Success for Fred Facebook page and GoFundMe page, which has already raised more than $36,000. “More important than everything—the clothes, the shoes—the relationships mean so much more to me,” Barley tells WSB.
Barley thanked those who have helped and supported him since his story has gained nationwide attention in a heartfelt and emotional video, which can be viewed below.
A version of this article originally appeared on Newser: Homeless but Determined, Teen Pitched Tent Outside College
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