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Determined homeless teen expresses gratitude for help he has received

Fred Barley’s life as a homeless teenager has changed due to the generosity of a Georgia community

On July 9, 19-year-old Fred Barley packed up his only belongings: two duffel bags, two gallons of water and box of cereal he’d eat for breakfast, and sometimes lunch and dinner. Two police officers responding to a trespassing call at Gordon State College in Barnesville, Georgia, woke the sleeping teen and asked him to leave his tent, which had been serving as Barley’s home.

The officers weren’t aware of Barley’s story. They couldn’t have known that the teen was homeless, or that he borrowed his little brother’s bike to make the six-hour journey from Conyers to Barnesville, in the Georgia heat, to register for classes to complete his second semester of college. They didn’t realize Barley, a biology major who one day hopes to attend medical school, had spent the day tirelessly searching for a job before returning to his tent because dorms wouldn’t open for students until next month.

Once officers listened to Barley, they understood. One officer went above and beyond to make sure Barley wouldn’t have to sleep in a tent another night.

“He was so understanding and he said, ‘I definitely I applaud you for doing this. We can’t allow you to stay here, but I have somewhere you can stay,’ ” Barley said in an interview with WSB-TV in Georgia.

The generosity didn’t stop there. After staying at a motel the officer paid for, the officer’s wife took to Facebook to ask the Barnesville community to help Barley.

Many answered the call, including resident Casey Blaney. As donations of money, clothes, school supplies and even aid for medical expenses began rolling in, Blaney began a GoFundMe page titled “Success for Fred” to help out with any of the teen’s other needs. Since July 12, Blaney has helped raise $184,000, exceeding the original $150,000 goal. Debbie Adamson, the owner of a local pizzeria, heard Barley’s story and hired him as a dishwasher before he could interview.

“I was shocked by how much support people will give from Lamar County and counties all over, and even people from across the country that I’ve never met just wanted to help so much in my life,” Barley told WSB-TV. “I was just so shocked and grateful.”

Watch as Barley expresses his gratitude to those who have helped below.

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Maya Jones is an associate editor at The Undefeated. She is a native New Orleanian who enjoys long walks down Frenchmen Street and romantic dates to Saints games.