Fayetteville Police Officer Dedicated to Helping the Homeless
Posted January 4, 1999 6:00 a.m. EST
FAYETTEVILLE — With temperatures dropping, area shelters are filling up fast. But for one reason or another, many homeless people can't get or don't want a roof over their heads.
That's why one Fayetteville police officer spends the afternoons trying to make sure homeless folks make it through the freezing nights. Officer Jason Sondergaard does his best to make sure Fayetteville's homeless live to see another day.
Sondergaard provides them with dry socks, blankets, coats and food.
"It helps us out a lot because you don't see many officers give 100 percent to homeless people out here," says Beth Williams, a recipient of the officer's goodwill. "Me and my husband, he saw us one morning about five or six. He gave us blankets and covers and stuff like that."
Sondergaard also gives the homeless a list of where they can get shelter. A group of four say they chose not to stay in a shelter because of the overcrowding and the rules.
"We're not bad people," says Bennie Williams. "We might be homeless but we're not bad people. A lot of people look down us."
The people Sondergaard helps, like Adrian Jackson, say the officer sometimes means the difference between life and death.
"I'd probably just stay here and go without eating or go down and panhandle people," says Jackson. "[I'd be] asking for some money and get me a cheap burger or something like that. That's how I'll survive."
"It really helps keep us warm and stops us from freezing to death, but what I really need is a job," says Jackson.
Sondergaard says recipients are thankful.
"Some are emotionless," says the officer. "Some you can tell are thankful, but there's no actual thanking."
Sondergaard says he's come to love his job because he knows that every day he's making a difference in someone's life.
Fayetteville police say they're one of only a handful of departments around the country who have an officer solely dedicated to helping the homeless.