Delivontae Johnson, 19, didn’t have to go out of his way to return a lost wallet to its owner and a complete stranger – but he did.
When he returned the wallet that Dee Harkrider of Wynne, Arkansas, had unknowingly left in a Walmart shopping cart last month, he sparked an unlikely friendship that’s still going strong.
“I just felt like he was an angel sent from God,” Harkrider told USA TODAY.
The pair have stayed in touch since the random act of kindness brought them together. Johnson was welcomed as a visitor to Harkrider’s church in January with open arms, and she plans to visit his church in return.
Last weekend, the grandmother of seven met Johnson’s mother, Rachel Johnson, for the first time over lunch.
“After visiting with her today, I can see why Delivontae is the young man he is today!” she wrote on Facebook.
When Johnson returned her wallet on Jan. 12, Harkrider thanked him with $20 she pulled from it and wished she had had more to offer for his generosity. Johnson, not seeking a reward, said the cash was more than enough.
When people ask why he bothered to drive about 20 miles to track Harkrider down, he says he was simply brought up to do the right thing.
“You’ve just got to be honest. (There’s) no telling what the outcome might be,” he said. “If you do good things, good things will follow.”
A mission to return what was lost
Harkrider wasn’t aware she had lost her wallet after her trip to Walmart in Forrest City, where Johnson lives, WREG-TV in Memphis reported.
Harkrider went to buy 3 gallons of washer fluid. After loading the backseat of her car parked in the reserved spot, Harkrider, who lives on disability, drove to a friend’s home in her hometown, Palestine, in the eastern part of the state.
Not long after, Johnson pulled up and spotted the wallet, he said. He pocketed it and entered the store to withdraw money for a tire repair. Johnson considered first getting his spare tire fixed before driving to Wynne, where he learned Harkrider lived from her driver’s license.
“I didn’t know if she was going to come back to Walmart looking for a wallet that wasn’t there,” Johnson said. “If they would have watched the cameras and seen I’d picked up a wallet, the police would have been at my house.”
Johnson tried Facebook-messaging Harkrider but got no response, so he checked her recent photos’ reactions to find a friend of hers to contact. That’s how he connected with Harkrider’s friend Elaine Keown.
‘God was watching out for me’
While driving, Harkrider got a call from Keown, who asked if she knew a man named Delivontae Johnson.
“I was like: ‘No I’ve never heard that name. I have no idea who that is,’” Harkrider said.
Keown explained he had found her wallet and gave Harkrider his number. Johnson said he initially headed to Harkrider’s home in Wynne before Keown texted him that Harkrider was actually visiting a friend in Palestine, so he changed his route.
The two met at a small restaurant in Palestine, and Harkrider was reunited with her lost wallet.
“When he got there, I jumped out of my car and I said, ‘I’m gonna take a picture so I can put it on Facebook!'” Harkrider shared. “I gave him big old hug.”
A friend told Harkrider she was lucky after the chance encounter, she wrote on her social media account.
“I told her no, God was watching out for me,” she wrote.
Johnson said it felt “great” to do something selfless for someone he now considers a friend.
“People need to know that it doesn’t hurt to do a good deed nowadays.”