Would you give the shirt off your back? This New York man did

The viral video of a man putting his own shirt on a homeless man on a New York City subway train once more highlights social media’s power to showcase acts of kindness. 

ABC-TV Channel 7 New York
Joey Resto gives a homeless man on a New York City subway his shirt.

Few commuters paid heed to the shirtless man sitting on the New York City 'A' train Friday night. But Joey Resto, moved by the man’s predicament, pulled off his own shirt and helped the man put it on. Then, he did the same with his hat.

“It was freezing that night. He looked cold and hungry,” Mr. Resto told WABC-TV, adding, “He looked so weak, and frail, that I had to help him. If I was just going to give [the shirt] to him, he wasn’t going to put it on.”

The incident, caught on video by a fellow subway passenger, has since made the rounds online, drawing more than 12 million views and 300,000 likes on Facebook as of Monday afternoon. It speaks once more to social media’s power to showcase acts of kindness – as well as Americans’ fondness for passing on Good Samaritan stories.

“[I]t's certainly clear that Americans like passing on feel-good stories about people doing good almost as much as they like spreading cute-pet videos or the latest on Kim Kardashian,” writes The Christian Science Monitor’s Amanda Paulson.

Indeed, social media has over years become a repository for acts of kindness and compassion: The tourist’s snapshot of a New York City cop giving a barefoot homeless man in Times Square a pair of all-weather boots and socks. The photo of the Chicago McDonald’s employee who closed his cash register in the middle of rush hour to help an elderly disabled man cut and eat his food. The video of the South Dakota woman who paid for the boxes of diapers that the Walmart customer ahead of her in line could not afford.

“It's the randomness that seems to catch most readers' attention, and perhaps make them hopeful that more people would display such kindness to strangers,” Ms. Paulson notes. “And it's possible, of course, that the stories inspire similar behavior, though cynics might say that they enable people to feel good about the world without having to go to the trouble of acting themselves.”

For his part, Resto told WABC-TV that he hopes to inspire others to compassion. He noted that he offered to get the homeless man some food, as well, but that he curled up and went to sleep after receiving the clothes.

“What a wonderful thing to do for this man!” one commenter wrote on the page that first posted the video.

“We need more love like that in our world,” added another.

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