Elsie Wescott wasn't satisfied with giving just one gift to help a homeless man. She put it on her shoulders to do something more.

Wescott had seen the man, who calls himself John, sitting on the side of the road in Chandler for the past couple of months, but didn't stop. When the Ahwatukee Foothills resident did finally stop, she asked him what she could do to help.

"He had just been sitting there, without a sign or anything, just reading his Bible," she said. "I had just gotten back from Costco and I went up and gave him some food. Then asked him if there was anything I could get for him. He turned down money, but said he would like a gift card."

While Wescott was at Alberston's getting the gift card, she talked to the manager about what she was doing and he agreed to donate a chicken dinner to him as well.

"I said it would be wonderful if we could get this guy a hot meal, he doesn't have much," she said.

Wescott didn't see him again until Christmas, and on that day she had the urge to help him out again, bring him some food and pray with him on Christmas.

"I'm here right now (in Phoenix) and I don't have family here," she said. "When I got out to him on Christmas, he said, ‘What you are doing is the word of God, what you are doing is Christmas in itself.'"

John, 62, came out from Illinois after his aunt died. He has been in the area since early 2011, but doesn't expect to stay long.

"I worked in a factory for 35 years before it closed down," he said. "The last of my family died last year and I've just been traveling everywhere."

Wescott said John had told her that he had been homeless for seven years. He plans to leave Phoenix, and, likely with Wescott's donation or partial donation of a bus ticket, will travel to Virginia in April.

"Christmas, and helping people, isn't just one day," Wescott said. "I'm a nurse and I know this guy isn't doing well, health-wise, so I wanted to do what I could to help him."

She has been back more times since then, and has plans to bring him books and whatever else she can afford to help him out with.

"It makes me appreciate what I have because (becoming homeless) could happen to anyone," Wescott said.

Contact writer: (480) 898-4903 or troemhild@ahwatukee.com

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