A Grandview business owner who fell victim to an electric bill scam is getting an overwhelming amount of help from her customers.
Shirley Van Black, of Shirley's Homestyle Restaurant, has been in business for 19 years, and in that time she has seen it all.
But last weekend really crystallized the best and worst of people.
She was taken advantage of then saved by her customers, and KCTV5 viewers rushed to help.
At Shirley's, it seems right that the clock on the wall has stopped. No one is in a hurry, and it takes people back to a time when everyone knew one's name.
"I love it because these are not just customers; they're my friends," Van Black said.
And after 19 years in business, Van Black built up a trust with most people she works with - a trust broken in a big way.
"KCP&L called, and they are going to come turn our electricity off," she said.
It capped a rough week for Van Black.
She had a fall and was feeling off her game. So they followed the directions from a man on the phone to buy some pre-paid cards and call in the $631 payment, exactly what she did owe KCP&L.
But she was scammed.
KCP&L confirmed it wasn't them who called, but it was too late to cancel and the money was gone.
It's already been a tough couple years for the restaurant, and knowing she still owed the money on that bill, she thought this might be the last straw.
"It puts you right out of business," Van Black said.
People started coming in from all over, faster than the restaurant could keep up with. They had seen KCTV5's story and wanted to help.
"They were upset because somebody took advantage of me, and they were behind me and they were going to help support me," Van Black said.
The messages and donations started rolling in small and large.
"$15.59 was a meal. The $100 was a donation," she exclaimed.
By the end of lunch Sunday, Van Black had $20 more than she needed to climb back out of the hole and keep the lights on.
"It does my heart good," Van Black said. "You think this world out here is so bad, but no there's a lot of good out there."
Van Black and everyone at the restaurant are grateful to everyone for what they did, but they need people to keep coming through the doors, and to keep coming back to make sure they can make it through all the bills still to come.
Copyright 2013 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.
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