COVINGTON, Ga. — For the Hicks family, strangers are only friends they have not met yet.
On Dec. 14, 2019, Newton County Deputy Joshua Hicks responded to a citizens assist at Potts Gas Station on Highway 36 in Covington. He met with a 79-year-old woman who became after visiting her late husband's grave and was more than 100 miles from her home in Anderson, South Carolina.
The elderly woman was "crying" and "upset about being lost," Hicks recalled in his incident report.
To ensure the woman's safe return home, Hicks stayed with her for more than an hour as he made contact with her 85-year-old brother in South Carolina. Her brother was unable to make the trip to Newton County until morning as he "was not in a position to come pick her up," Hicks stated in the incident report.
"[He] would need somebody to drive him and someone else to drive her car," Hicks added.
At this moment, the elderly woman, with no money to afford a hotel, was concerned about where she would stay for the night. Hicks, still ensuring her safe arrival home, offered to take her home with him so she could feel "more secure," he stated in the incident report.
The elderly woman went home with Hicks and was greeted with big smiles and hugs from his wife, Emily, and their three children — Haven, Harper and Holley. A room was prepared for the elderly woman, and the next morning, she met with her brother to return home.
"I have a great wife," Hicks said as he reminisced about the moment he brought the elderly woman home. "I have great kids. They have great hearts. It would be different to have a wife that didn't have the same heart I did.
"I called her and told her, 'I have this lady that's lost. We're going to let her stay in the house tonight. I need you to clean the room.' It could have been a different situation."
When asked about his thoughts during the situation, Hicks replied, "I was thinking, 'What would I do if this was my grandma? How would I want her treated?' She was very scared... very lost."
It was a "bad situation," Hicks added.
Many heroes roam the streets of Newton County, however, not every heroic story has the opportunity to be shared amongst the community.
"That's what the sheriff's office is about — going out of our way to help the citizens of Newton County and all over Georgia," NCSO Sgt. Michael Cunningham said. "I know [this] is not anything out of the ordinary for Josh Hicks ... it's nothing that's out of the ordinary for the sheriff's office."
In 2018, the NCSO initiated the Random Acts of Kindness program with the mission to "bridge the gap between law enforcement and citizens by offering a kind gesture when needed most," NCSO Sheriff Ezell Brown said.
"This program allows the deputies to assist by meeting some immediate needs of those who are hungry, homeless and/or shivering in the cold," Brown said. "We know we are unable to save the world. But we are able to provide a hot meal or clothing every now and again, and that does make a difference to those who need it."
The program is funded by anonymous donors who "believe in giving back," Brown said.