Girl Always Late, Teacher Follows Dad’s SUV Home


She Was Concerned

Debbie noticed that the 10-year-old student in her class, named Maddy was acting slightly strange. Debbie knew that something was up, so she got up from her desk at the front of the class and made her way over to Maddy, asking her what was wrong.

Debbie wanted to know what situation Maddy was in, but she had no idea that the answer would lead her to call 911.

Debbie Griffin

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Debbie Griffin loved her job. She got to shape the minds of the future but also nurture them and help them grow.

She knew that some children had less than idyllic home lives and always wanted her children to confide in her if they needed to. That’s when Debbie noticed something wrong.

Strange Behavior

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Maddy wasn’t arriving on time for school anymore. She also always seemed fatigued and not enthusiastic. Debbie decided to trust her teacherly instinct.

Maddy didn’t even play with the other children during their recess. She spent it napping instead, Debbie had to get to the bottom of it.

Making A Connection

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Debbie would do anything that she had to to get to the bottom of what was going on. She had a keen eye for when something was going on with a child. She just wanted to make things better for Maddy.

She sat Maddy down and got her to open up a bit. After a bit of chatting she knew that the root of the problem started at home. She would find out what it was.

New In Town

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Maddy was a relatively new student so Debbie didn’t know too much about her or her personal life. She just knew that she lived with her father and they had recently moved to Lakewood. Other than that, no one knew anything.

But something had definitely been off since Maddy had been turning up late for school after walking in with her father, James.


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Debbie didn’t want to get too involved in her personal life but when she saw something was off she knew to go with her 10 years of experience with things like this.

With Maddie always showing up tired and late and with her mother not involved she knew that things could get worse if she didn’t step in. She felt that she had to.

Taking Action


With another day of Maddy arriving late Debbie noticed that her father was always the one walking her in. Maddy always had bags under her eyes and seem burdened with more than she was letting on.

Debbie knew it was now time to step in. She called 911 on her phone, James Schweikhard would be surprised.

Sting Operation

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The police decided to follow her father home after he dropped her off. They could easily identify him from his ragged appearance.

They watched him get into his SUV and drive off. The police would never expect what they would find.



James Schweikhard would be surprised when the police showed up. They proceeded to surround him they asked him to step out of his vehicle.

The officers surrounded the 41-year-old man and told him that they were only trying to help him. They asked him to step out again, but he wasn’t having any of it.


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Up until this point, James had been having a regular day. He dropped off his daughter at school, but when he got into his SUV, he saw cops surrounding him.

James looked like a deer in headlights when the officers pulled him out of the car. Officer Butler ignored it and continued what he was doing.

The Truth

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Every inch of the old SUV was packed with bags, boxes, and anything else James could cram into the vehicle.

Officer Butler was blindsided when he saw the true nature of their living situation. James and Maddy had been homeless for two years. Their SUV was their home. In James’ experience, the cops didn’t help or even care about people like him.

Unexpected Help


Leaving Oklahoma had been James’ only option. It wasn’t safe for them to live there anymore.

The little money the pair had went to survival. There was no way James could afford the apartment he and his daughter so desperately wanted. But instead of handcuffs, Officer Butler did something unexpected – he decided to make good on his word and help.

Turning Things Around


Officer Butler arranged for Maddy and James to stay in a homeless shelter near the school while he tried to rally the community together. Then, he decided to see what he could do about James’ SUV.

James watched in awe as, over the next few weeks, Officer Butler rallied the community to help them. Soon, everyone knew James and Maddy’s story.

The Right Thing To Do


“It was the right thing to do,” Officer Butler said. “Because at any point in time in our lives, any one of us can be in that same situation. Offering assistance to another human being is the right thing to do.”

Then, he and some other officers began looking for a decent job for James and even helped with the paperwork to get him into a rental home in a nice neighborhood. But that wasn’t all.

Free Repairs


James’ car hadn’t been running for over a week – that’s why he’d been walking Maddy to school. Sgt Butler arranged for a tow truck to take the car to Sun Valley Automotive for repair, and both companies offered their towing and repair services for free.

Meanwhile, the community was organizing anything they could for Maddy and James.

Donations Pour In

People from all over donated clothes, food, furniture, and other vital supplies to help get them started. As soon as the housing application went through, the two of them would have a real roof over their heads and real beds to sleep in. The struggling dad couldn’t believe it.

“I’m in shock, I think,” he said. “This has actually restored my faith in humanity.”

Hand Up, Not Out


Even if it was a “hand up not a handout”, even if they said, “he had already done most of the hard work getting his life together”, the gesture was still enough to bring James and his girl to tears.

Life had been so hard, and people had been so cold in the past, he had nearly lost all hope in humanity.

Looking Up


Nothing was more important than his daughter’s future and happiness. Life had been rough for the both of them. But this new city was a new start, and James would do everything he could to be the best father possible.

The kindness of strangers had been overwhelming. But would it be enough for them to finally have a new start?

Up To Him


Sgt. Dave Hoover and his family had been saving the donated items in their garage while they waited for James’ housing application to go through.

“Now it’s up to him, this is a starting point for him and when we walk out the doors to this apartment, he’s going to be standing here alone waiting for his daughter to come home from school and from that he has to start. He’s gonna start on this path,” Sgt. Dave Hoover said in an interview.

Part Of The Community


“It’s all about being a part of the community,” Sgt. Dave Hoover said.

“I’m amazed we’ve been able to do this so quickly. I’ve always been taught that you always give a hand up and not a hand out. James has done a lot of the work getting himself together.” And everyone wanted to help. James had received five job offers in just two weeks.

A Roof Over Their Heads


Finally, the housing application went through. Maddy and James would finally have somewhere safe to stay!

“I’m so happy, microwave, dishwasher, washer, dryer,” James said, “This is the nicest apartment I’ve ever had. I’m very excited.” He added: “I think it’s awesome, I think it’s really cool, very unexpected, but very cool.”

Not Just A House


And it wasn’t just a house. James and his girl had something they didn’t think was possible.

They had a home, a caring community, authority figures who really cared, and the helping hand that would let them finally have the future they dreamed of. And if it hadn’t been for one teacher with a heart of gold, none of it would have happened.