A Washington, D.C., college student from the University of California-Berkeley who loves making TikTok videos has gone viral after sharing a video of herself buying tea for an unhoused man with prostate cancer, and now she’s raised nearly $400,000 for him.
Sanai Graden, who uses the TikTok handle @hustlanani, was on her way to the grocery store in D.C. when she was stopped by “a kind man” named Alonzo who asked her for a hot tea.
Graden invited him to walk with her to the store, and during their walk, she learned Alonzo had been diagnosed with prostate cancer one week earlier.
She offered to buy him food, but he declined. But when Graden asked if he needed anything, he said he needed his pain medication refilled.
Graden shared the encounter on TikTok with the caption, “Please help me help him,” and the video has been viewed more than 27.9 million times.
“A hot tea? From where?” asked Graden on the video before she said. “I’m walking to Trader Joe’s. Want to walk with me?”
The college student says she ended up spending the next five hours helping Alonzo. She said he had insurance but it wouldn’t kick in for about 45 days. Therefore, she used her own money to get his pain medication refilled at CVS, despite having to go to a second location because the first did not have what he needed.
She also bought him a green tea at Starbucks, checked him into a hotel room, and exchanged contact information with Alonzo. But the biggest blessing might have been setting up a GoFundMe page, which has so far raised more than $384,600.
Graden’s generosity didn’t stop there. She also plans to help Alonzo find a permanent place of residence and help him buy clothes and shoes. In addition, she bought him a phone with the funds and will assist him with setting up a bank account and making his doctor’s appointments.
“I’m planning to use the funds to make sure he has a place to live, new clothes, shoes, a bank account, doctor’s appointments, a phone, etc,” Graden wrote on GoFundMe. “I will be documenting the rest of this on my Tiktok if you are interested but thank you so much for Donating. Even if you just watched, liked, shared, or commented I’m grateful to have supportive people come across my video. God Bless!”
Graden told WUSA9 News that she helped Alonzo because he reminded her of her a family member. “He just reminded me of my uncle, so I’m like ‘unc’ and then naturally he just real cool, and real respectful and I’m just like ‘okay I like you.’”
She said the original goal was $10,000, but now she plans to help set up a trust for Alonzo.
“Be kind, because you never know somebody’s story,” Graden said. “Everyone has a story and if I would’ve stayed there and judged him on how he looked, none of this would’ve ever happened.”
TikTok got me balling in tears
did y’all see the TikTok where a homeless man asked the girl for tea? And she got him medicine, a hotel, started a go fund me for him???
I’m crying so bad
— thatgirl. (@itsdeara) February 1, 2024
Graden added that she and Alonzo are now friends, and she shared an additional video the following day showing him the GoFundMe. “I’ve been so lonely,” said Alonzo. “I laid down and I asked God could you bring my little angel back to me?”
“You got more money than me now,” joked Graden as Alonzo said, “That’s ours.” Graden laughed and replied that she didn’t need the money and the funds were indeed all his.
Alonzo said he had been homeless for seven years “in the worst, worst, but I still survived.”
When Granden told him how much money the GoFundMe account had early on, Alonzo replied, “That’s ours,” to which she replied, “That’s yours.”
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