‘This touched my heart’: Community helps homeless man after closure of thrift shop

Robert Crittle’s life started to change this week, thanks to his community.


Robert Crittle’s life started to change this week. A change thanks to his community.

Crittle, 65, has been homeless in Sacramento for eight years. To survive, he panhandles for money. He used some of that money to buy inexpensive clothing at a local thrift store.

But two weeks ago, that all changed when the thrift store announced it was closing permanently.

“That ain’t good,” Crittle cried when he found out about the closure. “I don’t know where I’m going to get my clothes at anymore.”

Crittle’s anguish motivated people to take action.

“I do want to get off the streets. I’m tired of living like this,” Crittle said.

AJ Anderson, a complete stranger, was one of many people from the Sacramento area who were moved to help Crittle.

Anderson raised over $14,000 for Crittle online and is putting those funds into a bank account that will pay for Crittle’s future housing bills and issue a weekly allowance.

“It feels good that people that don’t know each other at all can come together and do something that great for somebody like him,” Anderson said. “There’s a lot of hate going on in the world, and I just wanted to put some positivity back.”

Anderson said she hopes this effort sparks a larger movement to help Sacramento’s homeless population as a whole.

Crittle also received help from Sacramento Self Help Housing, a nonprofit organization, and the Homeless Outreach Team from the Sacramento County Sheriff's Office.

“This is what our world needs right now in our community. This is what we need. And for me, this touched my heart,” Deputy Lacey Nelson said. “We just wanted to do something for Robert and it turns out we all did, the whole community did. This is the representation of good-hearted people wanting to make a positive difference in our community. And of all times to be able to do this, now is the best time. And hopefully this is the boost he needs to get himself off the street.”

The Homeless Outreach Team provided Crittle with a duffel bag full of clothes, toiletries and water. Meanwhile, Nelson linked Crittle with a Sacramento Self Help Housing navigator who helped get him get a hotel room and look into more permanent housing.

“This is just the beginning for him,” said Deputy Matt Hovermale of the Homeless Outreach Team member. “He still has a long way to go. By all means, he’s not quite out of the woods yet. But, he’s on the right path and he has everything lined up for him, so hopefully we’re able to get him to that finish line."

On Thursday afternoon, Crittle said goodbye to the streets and hopped into a truck on his way to a hotel.

“I’m going to do what I got to do in order to better myself. Only thing I need is a start,” he said.