This cop went beyond the call of duty to take care of this teen at home.
It’s not uncommon for teenagers and adolescents to yearn to run away after a heated fight with their parents, but most never do or, if they do, they leave no warning before heading out. For 13-year-old Cameron Simmons, a resident of Sumter, South Carolina, that moment between deciding to run away and actually doing it was interrupted by his decision to call the police. He expressed that he was distressed and Officer Gaetano Acerra responded to the call.
When Acerra arrived, he had a one-on-one conversation with Cameron in which the teen revealed that he wanted to run away after getting into an argument with his mother. She had scolded him for playing his older brother’s video games without permission; the reason for the argument was so inconsequential that Acerra suspected something else might be wrong. His suspicions were confirmed when Cameron invited him into his home and then his own room, where the officer discovered that Cameron had no furniture in his room.
The only fixture in his room was an air mattress that has a hole in it so it deflates every night, leaving the 13-year-old with back pain he shouldn’t be experiencing at such a young age. Cameron’s clothes were in a trash bag and his brother’s room was in a similar state. Acerra learned from Cameron’s mother that the family had fallen under tough times after an unexpected move from Texas to South Carolina. She had been called upon to take care of a sick relative and was not financially ready for such a move, so they had to pack light and leave their furniture behind.
After assessing the situation, Acerra encouraged Cameron not to run away by telling him to count his blessings and left him with the promise that he would try to help him.
“I said, ‘You have it good, you have a roof over your head,’” Acerra told WIS-TV. “I told him I would try to help him out.”
Little did the Simmons family know, Acerra had a big surprise in store for them. He spent the next few weeks gathering items for them, especially Cameron, so that the family could live more comfortably. He purchased a queen bed and bed frame, a desk with a chair, and a TV for Cameron and also supplied his brother with a full bedroom set. The officer also bought them an air hockey table that they could play together and presented them with a Nintendo Wii that someone had donated after hearing their story.
When he arrived to drop off the items, Cameron was moved to tears and his mother was in disbelief. They had never been showed such a kindness and had no idea that Acerra had been working on this ever since he talked Cameron out of running away. Since the story went viral, people from around the world have sent other items to the family to help out.
“My heart went out for him,” Acerra told WIS-TV. “I thought the little things that he needed I could give him, to make him a happier kid. I didn’t do this for publicity or to get people to notice me. I did it because I could. It was the right thing to do and I think people should do things like this.”
“He said to me, ‘Now my back won’t hurt when I sleep,’” Acerra recalled from Cameron.
Acerra gave Cameron his cell phone number so that he can call at anytime and said that he hopes to be friends with the teen and mentor him as he grows up. This officer is a great example of how all others should act in sensitive situations, and while it’s not required to purchase things for other citizens, cops should be able to recognize when a family is down on their luck and offer a helping hand.