A year ago, everything was going right for a woman we'll call Sandy.
She had a good job at a bank in the suburbs.
She and her 10-year-old son had a safe home.
But then the world came crashing down around the 39-year-old. She lost her job. She lost her house. And she and her son moved into her truck. Police found her and DCFS threatened to take away her son if she didn't find a safe place to stay.
She moved into a hotel with the help of a social worker who paid for a few nights stay with her own money. That's when Sandy's knight in shining armor showed up. And he's kept showing up, every day, paying her hotel bill, so she and her son can stay off the streets.
But Sandy's Good Samaritan isn't a Chicago big shot. He isn't living in a Loop highrise. He doesn't even have a job.
Sandy's Good Samaritan is Curtis Jackson, who's been homeless since 2004. He pays for Sandy's hotel room because she used to treat him with dignity and kindness when she did have a house -- and he pays for it by panhandling and giving the money to her.
"All I can do is get out there and put a sign in my hand, or put a cup in my hand and ask people to help me out, and everything I get, except maybe bus fare and something to eat, I give it to her," Jackson said as he stood at the corner of 55th and Harlem.
Jackson pays the nightly bill by pouring his bucket of change on the hotel counter. Since December, he's raised $9,000, and he's given it all to Sandy. He said sometimes 40, 70, a hundred cars go by before someone gives him a few pennies or a few bucks.
Sandy can't believe it.
"I've donated to charities, I've helped other homeless families -- never realizing that one day we'd be in this situation," she said. "So thank God that we did have an angel waiting for us."
Jackson said he's a man of faith; homeless, but not hopeless, and he's got some words of wisdom for the people he sees bustling by every day.
"I have God. I'm one of the richest men on this earth, 'cause I have God," he said. "Money is not my master. That's what's wrong with this world: money is its master."
Sandy said she doesn't think she'll ever be able to repay Jackson, who's become like a brother.
"I'm out here for a purpose: to help someone, and that's all I'm trying to do is help someone that needs help right at this moment," he said. "And once she doesn't need help anymore, I'll move on to something else."
205 N. Michigan Avenue
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