’It feels good’: Retired CMPD officer hands out cash to families in need

INDIAN TRAIL, N.C. — It’s incredible to see the acts of kindness during the coronavirus pandemic, from Common Heart providing food to hundreds of families to individuals digging into their own pockets to help others.

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On Thursday, retired Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer Benson Ratlif went car to car handing out cash.

"I just gave away $2,500 to people that are in need,” Ratlif told Channel 9. "It feels good. When you're blessed, you have to bless other people."

That cash was a huge surprise for Mariano Martinez.

“He touched our heart, to be honest with you,” Martinez said. “He was telling us when people are down and out … we need people like him to bring our spirits back up … and he definitely did that today.”

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Martinez, who is a father of three and drives for Uber and Lyft, was one of hundreds waiting in line for Common Heart's mobile food pantry at the Food Lion in Indian Trail. It was a similar sight on Tuesday in Monroe, and last month as the need continues to rise.

Martinez told Channel 9 that this was the first time he’s ever needed assistance. Between losing business as a rideshare driver, and the price of groceries going up, Thursday’s food donation will make a big difference.

"Prices have skyrocketed. I mean, meats -- we can barely eat red meat. We’ll deal with chicken," Martinez said.

Martinez said all the generosity he witnessed Thursday raised his spirits. He said the food will feed his family and the cash Ratlif gave him will help keep their lights on.

"It brought tears to my eyes, really,” Martinez said. “It gives us hope that there are still a lot of nice people out there.”

Ratliff told Channel 9 he normally donates to those in need around the holidays.

“Everyone was really appreciative,” he said. “I’m not rich by any means, but to be able to give back or pass it forward is real important to me.”

Union County has launched UC Cares, a portal designed to connect residents to resources, like mobile food pantries.