Good Samaritan neighbors cover $1,000 food stamp debt

Federal regulations require overpayments to be returned regardless of who made the error. But the family didn't have the money to cover the bill it owed.


"Nice" falls short of describing the response to Kim Schoenthal's predicament. Eager generosity may be closer to the mark.

Less than a day after Schoenthal shared her story about having to pay back $1,071 in food stamps, several viewers from our sister station KCCI in Des Moines, reached out in hopes of helping her with payments or taking care of the bill entirely.

The issue arose following an error by Iowa's Department of Human Services. It sent a letter to Schoenthal late last year acknowledging its overpayment of $1,071 and asking for repayment.

Schoenthal exhausted her appeals and lacked the funds to repay the money.

But after her story aired Tuesday, multiple people offered to help. It became a race of generosity, and the first couple arrived at Schoenthal's house Wednesday afternoon.

"I am flabbergasted just to know that there are so many good-hearted people in the world that are just willing to step in and help somebody that they don't know," Schoenthal said.

The couple to arrive first requested anonymity but said they had experienced something similar in the past and wanted to help someone through that situation.

The couple initially told Schoenthal they would pay $300. But after meeting in person, they agreed to cover the entire $1,071 bill.

Schoenthal couldn't hold back the tears.

"I told him I finally feel now like I can breathe," she said. "I now don't have this hanging over my head."

While there is relief from the bill, Schoenthal says her next burden will be trying to show her gratitude and finding ways to show other people similar generosity.