Couple finds plenty of help on the road

GLENMOOR – A Scripture from Matthew 25:40, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren ye have done it unto me,” took on new meaning to one young couple this week as they reaped the benefit of others’ generosity.

After a falling out with her family in Chester, Elizabeth Selfridge, 19, and her husband, William Selfridge, 27, found themselves on the road Tuesday, with little more than the clothes on their backs and her two rescued dogs, Dopey and Wabbit.

On foot, the foursome was headed for Elizabeth’s mother’s home in Indiana when they stopped at the Calcutta Wal-Mart with the hope of getting $20 wired to them for food.

While inside the store, they were unaware that Dopey and Wabbit had drawn the attention of local resident Becky Thompson, who was dismayed to find two dogs tied up to a cage housing propane tanks.

“I was fixing to chew someone’s (expletive) because I thought they were being abandoned,” Thompson said.

She called St. Clair Township Police and advised officers she planned to wait outside until the owner came out of the store, and when Elizabeth walked toward the dogs, Thompson prepared to chastise her.

“But, it was a different situation than I thought,” Thompson admitted after she heard the couple’s tale.

After learning they were on foot, she asked where they planned to stay that night and was told “in the woods.” William said he has a large military-style cover that he believed all four could get under as they lay on the ground to avoid rain and snow.

They had made contact with a friend, a trucker, who agreed to let them stay at his home if they could make it to Mansfield to meet him when he was finished with his last run on Friday. From there, he intended to take them to Indianapolis.

Admittedly a bit leery, in case the couple was a pair of scam artists, Thompson told them if they could get to her office on Y&O Road, they could stay the night in the garage.

Still, there was that nearly three-hour walk to Mansfield ahead of them that worried Thompson, and she set about trying to find someone who was headed there willing to take on four passengers – two of them of the four-legged variety.

It occurred to her that a customer who often came into her former business, the Mulberry Grill, was a trucker, and she contacted him. The driver, T.J. Echols, agreed to transport the foursome to Mansfield, provided his own load schedule allowed.

She then began calling area organizations and churches for help, but soon learned that very little help was available through those means. One minister urged her to send the couple on their way “because it was probably a scam and he’d seen it before.”

Meanwhile, Thompson mentioned the saga of the Selfridges to her sister, Debbie Mayers, who was so impressed with her sister’s selflessness, she posted about it on Facebook Wednesday morning.

Within minutes, her page blew up with offers of help.

“What do you need from us?” one friend wrote, and it escalated from there.

From clothing and blankets, gift cards and food for both them and the dogs, the couple found themselves immersed in the generosity of others, almost to the point of being overwhelmed.

“My sister has a big mouth,” Thompson said wryly, but with evidence of pride in her voice, adding, “It just spiraled.”

Dopey had cut her foot while playing near the river on some shards of pottery, and the couple received a backpack filled with medical supplies.

The manager of Tim Horton’s donated a $50 gift card for the store, and the couple were taken there by Thompson for some of their meals. Mayers came up with a wheeled suitcase for the couple, in case they did end up walking, to make it easier to carry all they had been given.

“It’s rare. You don’t see many people willing to help like this,” Elizabeth said quietly from an apartment Thompson owns underneath her office.

By Wednesday morning, Thompson and her husband, Don, had decided to allow the couple and the dogs to stay in the apartment, primarily due to her fear of the kerosene heater used to heat the garage but also because the apartment has a bed and shower.

“It amazes me, the kindness of people, it really does,” William said as the dogs played nearby, relating that he grew up in a series of more than 100 foster homes and agreeing that this show of kindness had changed his opinion of people.

William said he hopes to find work once they reach Indiana, saying he has some experience in construction and other fields, but that he might look into truck driving.

Elizabeth said her mother was unable to help them out, due to her own financial and medical situations and having other children at home to care for.

Although the young couple still has a way to go and an uncertain future in Indiana, Elizabeth plans to help pay forward the generosity they received in Columbiana County.

“Once we’re established, we hope to start a pit bull rescue,” she said, saying she rescued both Dopey, a pit bull/Labrador mix and Wabbit, a cane corso mix.

As Thursday came to a close, Thompson had received an offer from another local resident to drive the family to Mansfield, but Echols came through and planned on picking up the couple and the dogs early Friday morning for the next leg of their journey.