by: Kerry Kavanaugh Updated:
GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. - A Gwinnett County teenager said a police officer's generosity kept his family off the streets.
Thirteen-year-old Darrion Mitchell and his family have called a small, cramped Norcross motel room home for the last three months.
"At least we have a bed to sleep on, a TV. We don't have to worry about being cramped up in one little car," Mitchell told Channel 2’s Kerry Kavanaugh.
But in late December, the family of seven was preparing to live out of a car.
"(We were) stressed, worried. They didn't know how we were supposed to get the room paid for the next day,” Mitchell said.
Gwinnett County Police Officer Josh Landress patrols the Norcross Extended Stay on Oakbrook Parkway. He said Dec. 23, other residents were asking for help to keep the family off the streets.
"I was made aware that this particular family, they were having a hard time financially,” Landress said. “When I walked in the room, their bags were already packed."
Landress heard and saw enough. He went to the motel office and paid $175, giving the family an extra week to get back on their feet.
"That held us over until we were able to pay for a room for ourselves. So, it's really a blessing,” Mitchell said.
"I believe it was just my time to give back to someone," Landress said.
He said he understands need. He’s been on the other side.
"Last year, I was injured at work. The guys that I work with they basically bought me a Christmas for my family,” he said. "My daughter had a brain tumor, and the department came through and donated money for me and medical bills."
Generosity between officers was paid forward to a family. Mitchell said it gave him hope.
"You’ve got to think that one day things are going to get better. It's not always going to be all bad. It's going to get better sooner or later,” he said.
For his generosity, the Gwinnett County Police Department honored Landress with officer of the month in February.