Schroeder said she could feel Cole’s anguish when she confronted him.
"I saw Cole and kind of approached him and just said, 'Hey, you grabbed my packages. I'd like them back now,'" Schroeder told WTHR. "I could just see his face crumble a little bit and he said that he had thrown them in the bushes."
Cole told Schroeder he was looking for something he might be able to sell for cash.
"I knew it was stupid, the second I did it, but you know, if there's a chance to eat, good sense goes out the window when you're hungry," Cole told WTHR.
Suddenly, the lost packages no longer mattered to Schroeder.
"I just had this moment of calm where I realized, it's not about some makeup and a bathing suit," Schroeder told WTHR. "I could tell immediately that he was a good person and just made a bad decision. He didn't have to walk back with me to where my packages were.
“I just said, you’re more than your circumstances,'” Schroeder told the television station. She asked Cole to meet her the next day.
Schroeder gave Cole clothes, food and baby wipes.
"It almost brought tears to my eyes, because being clean is an advantage that's squandered on most people," Cole told WTHR. "You don't realize how gross you feel whenever you wear the same clothes for two weeks, until you do."
Schroeder and 25 of her friends chipped in and bought Cole a bus ticket to California, so he can stay with friends who offered him shelter, the television station reported.
"You always hope something like that would turn out like this, but it rarely ever does," Cole told WTHR.