Homeless man longs to see his daughter on Christmas. can he find $27 for a bus ticket?


Robert Fox hoped to find enough money for a bus ticket to see his daughter in Virginia for Christmas.

Robert Fox knew where he should spend Christmas. With his daughter, who would welcome him with a hug and a kiss. He would tell her he loved her, and thank God for bringing them together. He would reminisce about happy memories over butter pecan ice cream and lemon cake with chocolate frosting. He would shave and shower and sleep in a warm bed, and when he woke up, he’d begin his new life.

What he didn’t know was how any of that could happen.

Fox, 70, imagined all this as he sat on a bench in downtown Washington, D.C.’s Franklin Square, surrounded by makeshift tents patched together by people who, with Christmas less than 48 hours away, had already given up on finding a special place to spend the holiday. The temperature had climbed into the 50s, so he unbuttoned his wool coat and tipped back his full-brim camouflage hat, allowing the sunlight to cascade across the creases of his worried face.

His daughter lived 61 miles south, in a small town just outside Fredericksburg, Virginia. He has a cellphone but can’t afford to pay for service. He didn’t know his daughter’s number or even the number of anyone who did. He hadn’t seen her since a relative’s funeral five, maybe six years ago, and they hadn’t talked in four. He didn’t own a car, and in his pocket was all the money he had left in the world: 62 cents.

“I’m going through some things,” he said, but what that really meant was that he’d been living on the streets of the nation’s capital for nearly a year. That’s what had brought him to Franklin Square, an unofficial refuge for the city’s homeless. The District of Columbia has spent millions of dollars to reduce their numbers, and the city has been taking more families off the streets, but the number of single adults has continued to grow.

Fox acknowledged that he’s made some bad choices. He loves his five children, even if he hasn’t been around all the time. He’s struggled with drugs, off and on, he said, and been arrested a number of times through the years, once serving a year in prison on a cocaine conviction.

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