Teen Gives Shoes to Homeless Man as Part of Effort to ‘Overshadow Violence’ in Neighborhood

GoFundMe(LOUISVILLE, Ky.) -- A 14-year-old from Louisville, Kentucky, has been moving thousands of people on social media after a photograph of him giving away his shoes to a homeless man has gone viral.

The act of kindness took place this Labor Day when the teen, Laron Tunstill Jr. (a.k.a. Ron Ron), went out to do homeless outreach with fellow members of PurpMe, a local nonprofit group focused on "teaching our community how to uplift one another," according to its website.

"Ron Ron and I went out with bean soup and corn bread and just went out to spread love in our neighborhood" said PurpMe founder Jason Reynolds.

"We saw a homeless man who had holes in his shoes, and, without hesitation, Ron Ron took the shoes off his feet and gave it away," Reynolds, 30, told ABC News Thursday. "They sat and talked to each other. The homeless man explained that he had gone through a lot of loss and hurt in his life, and Ron Ron was very moved by his story."

Like the homeless man, the 14-year-old was no stranger to struggle, Reynolds said.

"Lord, help us all," Reynolds said with a laugh. "Ron Ron was a wild kid. He grew up in a rough area where people get shot all the time. The streets affected him a little, and at one point, he was fighting more, being disrespectful."

During Ron Ron's "bad phase" three years ago, Reynolds said he reached out to him and served as his mentor. Reynolds said that with that mentorship, and what he believes is "God's grace," Ron Ron underwent "a change of heart."

"Now, he's the one mentoring other kids," Reynolds said. "It's amazing. He's just so passionate to make a change in the world and inspire other people."

Ron Ron's photographed act of kindness has since gone viral, garnering thousands of reactions and shares on Facebook in less than a week.

However, Reynolds said he wanted to emphasize that it was one small part of a bigger effort to "overshadow violence and negativity in the community."

"I started these PurpMe teams to replace the gangs and violence in our streets with community outreaches and love in our streets," Reynolds said. "We may not have much ourselves, but we do the best with what we got. We just want to start a movement of people loving and uplifting one another."

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Charlottesville mayor to issue statement on Robert E. Lee statue

Charlottesville mayor to issue statement on Robert E. Lee statueMark Wilson/Getty Images(CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va.) -- Charlottesville Mayor Mike Signer will issue a statement Friday afternoon after canceling a news conference at which he was expected to "make a major announcement" regarding the local statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee and the legacy of the woman killed during a protest sparked by the city's plans to remove the statue.

His news conference had been scheduled for noon on Friday, but the mayor tweeted Friday morning that "we are canceling today’s press conference and instead issuing a statement in the afternoon."

FYI all: we are canceling today’s press conference and instead issuing a statement in the afternoon. Stay tuned.

— Mike Signer (@MikeSigner) August 18, 2017

FYI, the reason for the change is we decided a statement rather than a press event was the best medium for the ideas I want to convey today.

— Mike Signer (@MikeSigner) August 18, 2017

The statement comes six days after a Unite the Right rally sparked by Charlottesville's plan to remove the Lee statue from a local park turned deadly.

The rally was attended by neo-Nazis, skinheads and Ku Klux Klan members. They were met with hundreds of counterprotesters, which led to street brawls and violent clashes.

A driver plowed into counterprotesters, killing Heather Heyer, 32, and injuring several others. The suspected driver is in custody, facing charges including second-degree murder.

Despite the "painful" event, "we’re not going to let them define us,” Signer told ABC News earlier this week of the agitators.

"They’re not going to tell our story," he said. "We’re going to tell our story. And outsiders -- their time has come and gone. This city is back on their feet, and we’re going to be better than ever despite this."

Signer compared his hopes for Charlottesville's recovery to the aftermath of the Charleston, South Carolina, church shooting in June 2015 that killed nine people. The gunman in that attack said he wanted to start a race war, but the tragedy instead united the city.

"There’s a memorial right now in front of Charlottesville City Hall that’s flowers and a heart that talks about the love that we have here. Those are the images that are going to replace these horrific ones from this weekend. That’s the work that we have as a country," Signer said.

"That’s what happened in Charleston. There were those horrible images of those people bloodied and killed and weeping from the church. But they were replaced quickly, steadily, by the work that started to happen. By people who said, 'You’re not going to tell our story for us. We’re going to tell our story.'

"And that’s what’s happening in this community. That’s my work as the mayor here -- is not to allow these hateful people who just don’t get this country to define us," he said. "And they’re not going to define us."

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