In late June, Julia Hawkins was taking her lunch break at a Walmart in North Sydney, N.S., when she came across a homeless man sitting on the curb with his dog.
Hawkins said she meant to give the man some money but forgot. In a display of small-town affection, when she saw him again the following Sunday, Hawkins and her husband decided to make up for it. They bought him some dog food and water, and gave him some money, around $10.
“He was very appreciative and he seemed quite nice,” Hawkins said. “And his dog was sweet.”
Now, almost a week after that man was found badly beaten in a parking lot near a grocery store, Hawkins has one-upped herself in a big way. Her crowdfunding campaign for the man on the website Go Fund Me has so far raised more than $16,500, with donations from more than 450 people and more than 4,600 shares on social media.
Shawn Jack, 48, is in for a surprise when he is released from the hospital.
The motives behind Jack’s brutal beating and the exact circumstances of the attack are still under investigation by police, but the attack is believed to have involved a wrench. Jack was taken to a local hospital, where he remains in critical condition with serious head injuries, according to Cape Breton Regional Police.
Hawkins said her heart went out to the man after realizing he was the one she’d spoken to just two weeks earlier. She set up the page Thursday night with a goal of raising $1,000 for Jack by the time he was released from hospital.
But Hawkins never expected this much support.
“It’s crazy,” she said. “We were just overwhelmed and extremely happy and surprised.”
Hawkins said the donations have come largely from local communities, though many have been sent from Alberta, where many Nova Scotia families have moved to.
Though there has been no word on whether Jack’s condition is improving, and it is unclear how long it will be before Hawkins is allowed to visit him, she plans to give him the money in full when he is released.
“A lot of people have been sending me messages and emails on what to do with the money,” Hawkins said. “He’s not a child. I’d rather wait until he can talk, and I’d like to talk to him … and I’d like to ask him what he wants to do with it.”
Police have arrested six people in connection with Jack’s beating so far, including two on Sunday. James Darren Clarke, 33, and Gordon William Bobbitt, 47, both charged with obstructing justice, are expected in court on Monday.
Police have issued a Canada-wide warrant for 22-year-old Cory Patrick Blinkhorn of Sydney Mines, who is wanted on a charge of attempted murder.
With files from The Canadian Press