When Sumter Police Officer Gaetano Acerra decided to help a 13-year-old boy, he never thought his act of kindness would go viral.
"I didn't think it was going to get this big," said Acerra. "I'm shocked."
Acerra bought a bed, television, desk, and chair for Cameron Simmons. At the time, Simmons was sleeping on an inflatable mattress that he said deflated during the night.
Acerra asked his brother, Ferdinando, to help him deliver the bedroom furniture to the boy, and that's when a simple Facebook post went viral.
"I just wanted to brag a little bit about what he was doing," said Ferdinando who posted a picture of his older brother hugging Cameron. "I posted it on Facebook, and next thing I know, it went viral."
The picture was posted online May 6 and three days later, an online donation fund was set up.
In just four days, more than $5,000 had been donated to Cameron and his family to help fund basic needs.
"I appreciate all the support and kind words I've been receiving from all over," said Officer Acerra.
Officer Acerra has since been able to provide a bed for Cameron's brother, as well as dressers for both boys. Much of the furniture has been donated or given at reduced prices by local businesses.
"I love kids," said Officer Acerra. "I try to help kids out all the time."
In order to help more people, the Acerra brothers are in the process of setting up a non-profit.
Officer Acerra has filed the paperwork and the non-profit should be official in about a month.
"It's always the best feeling, knowing that you can help somebody out that needs the help," said Ferdinando.
The brothers credit their mom and dad for raising them to know that helping other people is the right thing to do.
They hope to help as many families as possible once the non-profit is official.
As for the Simmons family, they are overwhelmed by the kindness.
"She said that she was praying, and that I answered her prayers," said Officer Acerra about Cameron's mother.
Officer Acerra describes himself as a mentor to Cameron and is thankful for the international support.
"You really changed his life," said Officer Acerra. "Gave him some hope."
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