Jeff Harding is facing a good-size bill for paying it forward.
Harding, an optometrist who lives in Meadowbank, likes to do good deeds. He likes too to get his family of six in on kind-hearted acts as well.
There is great merit, he feels, in teaching his children the value of “passing out good deeds without expecting anything in return.’’
Well, a recent goodwill gesture did not result in that same special warm feeling that Harding has grown accustomed to through past charitable actions over the years.
Harding and his clan were keen to set out to help someone who had next to nothing. They kept their eyes peeled while in downtown Charlottetown hoping to spot a person in particular dire straits.
Harding was walking with two of his children about one month ago when he stumbled, he thought, across a good candidate for a good deed.
A man had just opened up a sign that read “Need a place to stay.’’ The man was sitting on a milk crate. He was wrapped in a blanket on this cold day.
“He looked homeless,’’ said Harding.
So, filled with good intentions, Harding made his way to the relatively high-end hotel Delta Prince Edward. He made arrangements for his special guest to enjoy a night of comfort off the streets.
Harding returned to give the apparently homeless man a room card along with the news that he would be sleeping in style this particular evening.
“He thanked me and shook my hand,’’ Harding recalled.
“You try to do something to help someone out and this is what they do. It’s kind of a risk that you take. We weren’t too angry about it.’’ - Jeff Harding
The gratitude clearly ended there.
The very next day, Harding received a call from the hotel. He was told there had been an incident.
A guest noticed a man carrying a television set down the hall. Turns out that man was none other than the same person who had enjoyed a free room courtesy of a goodhearted stranger.
The man also stole a duvet in addition to the TV.
The bill — stolen television set, stolen duvet, and accommodation for one night — came to more than $900.
Harding, naturally, was disappointed to receive a large bill in exchange for his act of kindness. Still, he was able to take the misfortune in stride.
“You try to do something to help someone out and this is what they do,’’ he said.
“It’s kind of a risk that you take. We weren’t too angry about it.’’
Harding has no intention to end his acts of random kindness. The family, he adds, will make a point to “try to cover our bases a little better’’ in the future.
As for the man who took him for a financial ride, Harding has heard that police have charged him or are in the process of charging him for the theft.
Harding is not holding his breath over getting his money back. Nor does he wish the culprit ill will.
“I just hope and pray that he can find his way somehow,’’ he said.