Crime & Courts

Help pours in for man scammed of $1,100

Christmas is coming to the Huckleby children after all, thanks to some giving people.

An Eagle article on Saturday told how a man used counterfeit money last week to buy $1,100 worth of auto parts from Lawrence Huckleby of Wichita. Huckleby, who is disabled and has limited income, was selling the auto parts to pay bills and buy Christmas presents for his five children, ages 4 to 12.

Since the article appeared Saturday, dozens of people have called or e-mailed The Eagle offering help for the family. Others have tracked down the Hucklebys, bearing gifts.

On Monday, Huckleby's wife, Melissa, went shopping for toys after a woman drove to Wichita from the Newton area and gave her $600.

The woman who helped the Hucklebys said, "It's not like we're rich, but we have enough." She asked not to be named to protect her privacy.

She added: "I love children. Christmas is so important to me, and when I read that story I hurt so much ... that someone would pass those counterfeit bills to them."

Lawrence Huckleby reported the incident to police and gave them the counterfeit bills. Police say use of counterfeit cash has been on the rise.

The woman who gave the Hucklebys the money said she related to them. As with the Hucklebys, she has five children living at home, including one with special needs.

Melissa Huckleby said she told the woman, "You don't have to do this." But the woman insisted.

Lawrence Huckleby said he and his family want to thank the strangers "from the bottom of our heart."

He didn't realize until now that people can be so giving, he said.

If they ever need help, he said, "I would come running in a second."

Huckleby had advertised some auto parts on Craigslist as a way to raise Christmas money for his family. A man called him, and they agreed on a price of $1,100. In a store parking lot, the buyer counted out the cash in front of Huckleby, then put it in an envelope. After Huckleby got home, he realized the bills were counterfeit.

He had to tell his children that they wouldn't be having the Christmas he and his wife wanted to give them. They were crestfallen.

But his children are happy now, he said.

"They know they're getting a Christmas."

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