Deputy honored for helping homeless man on Christmas



A Colleton County deputy is being honored for helping a homeless man to get back on his feet. 

On Christmas Day in 2020, Smalls saw a homeless man walking down U.S. Highway 15. With the weather being cold, Smalls took the man, Joey Brown, to a nearby bus station and used his own money to buy the man a bus ticket. That ticket allowed Brown to stop hitchhiking and to get home to his family safely for the Christmas holiday. 

Since then, Brown has reached out to the Colleton County Sheriff’s Office, showing his gratitude. Brown is also now married, working two jobs and is “doing well,” according to Colleton County Sheriff Buddy Hills. 

To thank Smalls for his generosity, Charleston ABC News 4 Anchor Dean Stephens presented Smalls last week with the Jefferson Award. 

The Jefferson Award was created in 1972 by the American Institute for Public Service. The award was founded by former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onasiss, former U.S. Sen. Robert Taft, Jr., and Samuel Beard, all as a way to honor those for community service. 

According to Hill, the Jefferson Awards are given to “ordinary people who do extraordinary things without the expectation of recognition.”

“Lt. Smalls, your actions are a prime example of not just meeting expectations but exceeding them,” said Hill. “Thank you for continuing to go above and beyond the call of duty.  Keep up the great work. It doesn’t go unnoticed.”

When interviewed previously about why he helped Brown, Smalls said he “heard a voice” tell him to help. Smalls bought Brown a bus ticket to Hampton, Va. He also took Brown to get food. “I wanted to get him home, back to Hampton, Va.,” Smalls said, in a prior interview. 

“He (Brown) said, ‘I don’t have anything to give you.’ But I told him just be my friend. That’s why I’m doing this,” Smalls said. “You know, people often don’t appreciate that even on our worst days, we’re still better off than most,” Smalls said. “This was the best Christmas gift I gave.”


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