Instead of asking for gifts for her 21st birthday, UNC student Leslie Moen is asking for people to donate money to her friend Steven Howser, a homeless man in Chapel Hill.
Moen started a GoFundMe campaign to raise $1,500 to help Howser make a down payment and the first month’s rent on an apartment.
Howser said he was on numerous waiting lists to apply for housing and social security.
The campaign has raised more than 50 percent of its goal and Moen said she hopes to reach the goal before Christmas.
“Small donations are really meaningful to me,” she said. “Knowing that’s coming from people who also don’t have a lot but realize that they have something to give.”
Moen said she met Howser at a community dinner last September hosted by the Wesley Campus Ministry.
She said she went over to talk to Howser because he looked lonely.
“He looked like he was angry at someone,” she said. “There’s no reason to be angry when you’re getting a free meal with a warm community that loves you.”
Moen said after talking to Howser, she knew he wasn’t mad or angry but that it just took him a little time to come out of his shell.
Moen said Howser has helped serve and clean at every community dinner since the first one over a year ago.
“That’s a good organization for what they do for the community,” Howser said about the Wesley Campus Ministry.
Moen said she knew she really wanted to do something for Howser after he bought her a birthday cake with her name on it, even though she knew he was struggling financially.
“There’s no way that Steven, who, in my eyes, has nothing financially, can afford this for me and me not give something back to him,” Moen said. “Why wait — now’s the perfect time.”
Kayce Scinta, a UNC student and friend of Moen's, said she donated to the campaign to support Moen, whom she has known since 5th grade.
“She’s just an awesome person,” Scinta said.
Howser said he was thankful to have Leslie as a friend and he believes God opened the door for their friendship.
“If God has angels on this Earth, she’s one of them,” he said.
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