NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Christmas is usually the holiday most associated with miracles, but this is a story you might call a Thanksgiving blessing. It's about a man who thought he lost every cent he had on his food stamps card but ended up gaining so much more.
"I went there and put everything on the counter on the Thanksgiving meal," explained Dale Piar. "A cashier helped me, and she said, 'sir, it’s been declined.' She said, 'you’ve got —' I think she said 87 cents — 'on your card,' and I was like, 'what?'"
As NewsChannel 5's Kelsey Gibbs first reported, Dale's EBT card had been hacked by someone out of Brooklyn, New York.
"I said, 'well I’ve never been to New York,'" said Piar.
When Piar turned to Tennessee's Department of Human Services, other than reassuring him 870 other Tennesseans had also fallen victim to the same scam, there was nothing they could do.
"I said, 'well are you going to replace the benefits? This is the holidays, and people count on that,' and they said, 'not at this time,'" he recounted.
But thankfully, the story doesn't end there. Just moments after that original piece aired, NewsChannel 5's phones started ringing off the hook. We started forwarding those calls straight to Dale.
"I was overwhelmed with the gifts and people showing up," said Piar.
He received support from just about every means imaginable — from checks in the mail to food donations carried straight into his freezer. Country music singer Tracy Lawrence donated two turkeys with all the trimmings. Compton's Foodland donated $200 worth of groceries. There was even a North Nashville woman, a victim to the EBT card scam as well, who made a generous offer.
"She takes public transportation — the bus — and she was going to get on the bus and bring me her turkey, and I was like, 'what?'" he said.
And that's when the idea hit him: the man who had nearly every cent taken was going to give nearly all of it away.
"People need to stick together, you know? Especially at the holidays when everything is so messed up in this world, you know?" said Piar. "This ain’t right. I need to help everybody."
Dale started close to home with his next-door neighbor well into his 90s.
"He come over to the house and he said, 'I’m taking you to Kroger.' He said, 'I’m going to buy you groceries for today,'" said Del Larson.
Then Piar remembered another neighbor named Vivian, who had just lost her husband.
"I thought I was going to have to give up and lose the house and go somewhere else," said Vivian Baylor. "Dale come down and brought money for me to buy stuff for my grandbabies to eat while they’re here this week."
That donation put food on Baylor's table, and now, rather than tears of grief, she's shedding tears of joy.
"That’s a Thanksgiving blessing right there. I wouldn’t leave them for nothing, nothing," said Baylor. "I’m not alone; nobody is. If you’ve got family like this, you’ve got it. You’re blessed."
Dale isn't done yet. He's been turkey trotting all over Old Hickory, making sure that those who need help find it.
"Grocery stores, I just hand them out. I see kids or something like that, and I give them some money," said Piar. "I’ll just be happy that, yeah, that they’ll be blessed like me, you know?"
Because even though his card is still pretty empty, Dale's heart couldn't be more full.
"There are good people in this world, and people have to truly believe that. Yeah, yeah, that’s the honest-to-God truth," said Piar.
While Piar is enjoying giving out all of these donations, he admits he's officially in over his head. He's encouraging anyone else who wants to donate to those in need to pick a charity of their choice.