Homeless hero overwhelmed by offers of help

When he was overwhelmed by life, Joel Hartman hit the road. He was homeless and humiliated.

Now Hartman is overwhelmed again. His act of kindness — returning a wallet he found in a trash can — has led to offers of help from around the country.

“It’s too much,” Hartman said Monday after receiving a card. Inside were five, crisp $100 bills and a note from a woman named Emily. “This has been a life-changing experience. It has helped bring me out of the gutter.”

Since he returned to the Omni Hotel at CNN Center on Friday, Hartman's days have included both smiles and tears. He never imagined returning a woman's wallet would lead to this. The day after the hotel released a picture of a scruffy-faced man returning a wallet, Hartman learned from others that the hotel was looking for him.

The hotel general manager, Scott Stuckey, said he wanted to offer the man a reward for doing the right thing. When Hartman returned to the hotel Friday night, Stuckey offered him a room, $500, food and new clothes.

But that was just the beginning. Since learning of Hartman’s story, dozens of people have offered to help him.

“We’re getting calls from people from all over the United States, from Hawaii, Canada,” Stuckey said Monday. “They’re all people wanting to know what they can do to help.”

Cash, gift cards and clothes have been brought to the downtown hotel. Others have offered Hartman holiday meals, jobs and even housing until he’s back on his feet.

Monday afternoon, Hartman visited the hotel's salon, where he got a haircut and beard trim. He said he hasn't made any decisions about what he'll do next, but is grateful that he has so many options, thanks to people he's never met.

“The whole thing has just been awesome,” Hartman said. “I’d like to turn this around and help other homeless people. “It would really go a long away to help a lot of people.”

An online fundraising page has been set up for those wishing to donate to Hartman.