A police officer in Franklin, Ohio found a 7-year-old boy standing in front of a local CVS drug store last week, trying to sell his teddy bear.
“It broke my heart,” officer Steve Dunham told WLWT, the local NBC station. “He told me he was trying to sell his stuffed animal to get money for food because he hadn’t eaten in several days.”
Dunham told the station he took the boy to a Subway restaurant for a meal while two other police officers went to the child’s home, where they found he had been living amid what the Journal-News called “garbage, cat urine and liquor bottles.”
The boy and his four brothers, ranging in age from 11 to 17, were taken from the home and are now living with relatives, WLWT reported.
The parents, Tammy and Michael Bethel, were charged with five counts each of child endangering, the Journal-News reported. They have pre-trial hearings scheduled for September 16.
“Officers see this nationwide everyday and they do go above and beyond to feed homeless, feed children … they treat people like their own family,” Franklin police chief Russell Whitman told the Journal-News. “You can look at your local police departments wherever you’re at and you can find stories like this.”
The police department wrote on Facebook that St. Vincent De Paul at St. Mary’s Church in Franklin was accepting monetary donations to help the children. More information is available here.