On January 22, 2018, the police in Camden County, New Jersey, received a phone call. A worried mother was on the other end of the line, and she was in real need of help. After 911 dispatcher Tondaleya Bagby found out about the woman’s situation, though, she went miles beyond what was expected of her to provide assistance.
And during the call, it soon became apparent to dispatch supervisor Bagby that the woman in question was desperate and starving. The mom also had no service on her phone; as a result, the only option left to her was to dial emergency services.
Perhaps because Bagby is a mom herself, she was able to stand in the caller’s shoes and visualize herself in her situation. “I think what she did was just what she had to do,” Bagby told the Courier-Post in February 2018. “Regardless of her situation and how hard it might be to ask for help, she did her job as a mother to get help for her kids.”
But the mother’s emergency was unlike most. Sadly, she had no food to give her children, and they hadn’t eaten anything since the day before. And although the mother sounded composed over the phone, what she said touched Bagby.
The mother reportedly told the dispatcher, “All I wanted to know… If I could get some type of assistance.” She added, “I need somebody to come out… I’ve been… trying to find food for my children. My kids have not eaten since yesterday. I’m waiting for my food stamps to come.”
On hearing the mom’s distress, though, Bagby was overcome with emotion. “It was heartbreaking,” she said to WMFY News 2 in February 2018. So, in response to the call, the dispatcher sent fellow officer David Hinton out to investigate.
Bagby wanted to help above and beyond that action, however. As a result, she gave Hinton her personal number so he could update her on what he found at the woman’s home. And, subsequently, Hinton went over to the mother’s apartment, ready to share what he found.
When Hinton got there, though, he saw four hungry children who were between two and nine years old. “I went inside and found a single mom and four kids in a one-bedroom apartment,” he said to WMFY News 2. “The mother then explained that she couldn’t provide for her children.”
However, while the little ones were hungry, they were still thrilled to see a police officer. Still, even if Hinton was pleased at the reception, he was presumably less happy to find the cupboards empty. He updated Bagby, who then instructed him to order pizzas.
Rather than that, though, Hinton decided to take the family to McDonald’s; finally, the kids were able to fill their bellies. But the dispatcher wasn’t satisfied with providing just one meal for the mom and her children. She knew she could give them much more.
Bagby explained to WMFY News 2, “All day, I was thinking about the long term, like, yes, they have food now, but what about tomorrow, next week, next month?” Eventually, though, the kind-hearted dispatcher came up with a plan to help the family further.
Amazingly, Bagby intended to go to the single mother’s apartment by herself after work. When she let her own mom, Tracy Seigel, know about her plan, though, she met some opposition. Seigel, who also works for Camden County Police as a sergeant, expressed her concern about how unsafe the crime-ridden neighborhood would be for Bagby.
As an alternative, Siegel passed the hat round her colleagues, who threw some dollars in. She and Bagby took what they donated and added their own money, so that the dispatcher ended up with enough to buy ten sacks of groceries from local supermarkets.
According to Siegel, though, Bagby’s actions were no surprise. Indeed, when speaking to WMFY News 2, the officer would describe her daughter as being warm with a “giving heart.” And although Bagby is not rich, she was nevertheless willing to use what she had to help.
So, with ten bags of food and her mom for backup, Bagby went to the single mom’s apartment. “[The mother] answered the door, and all the kids were lined up behind her. She was so grateful and appreciative, and the kids were so excited,” Bagby recalled to WMFY News 2. “It made my heart smile.”
But Bagby wasn’t alone in thinking that more could be done for the needy family. The police department itself would step in to help, too, and it went on to provide the mother with a delegate to help with social services.
It turns out, though, that a good deed like this was nothing out of the ordinary for Camden County Police. Spokesman Dan Keashen told WFMY News 2, “The officers do things like this all the time.” Even so, their generosity didn’t go unnoticed, and the department named Seigel and Hinton Officers of the Week.
However, those who helped remained humble and believed that they had simply done their duty. “We’re there to protect and serve,” Seigel said. “And ‘serve’ in every sense. We’re police officers, but we’re human beings first.”
Nevertheless, Seigel was overjoyed by her daughter’s actions. “It pulls at my heartstrings as a mother to know my daughter is so passionate about helping people,” she proudly said to WFMY News 2.
And she wasn’t alone in being touched by Bagby’s compassion. What’s more, the hungry family went on to thrive after the dispatcher stepped in and helped give them the assistance they so sorely needed – proof, then, that one good deed can really make a difference.