People Mocked Him For Shaving On The Train. Then They Had A Change Of Heart.

"It's a collective effort and shows the power of people coming together to help those in need."

Anthony Torres was mocked online after someone uploaded a video of him shaving on a New Jersey Transit train. Now, the internet is trying to get him on his feet.

Torres was initially the subject of a viral video when he was caught shaving his face and shaking the shaving cream off of his razor onto the floor of the train's car. After millions of people saw the video online, comments calling Torres a "slob," "animal" and "nasty" began pouring in, according to The Associated Press. Some people simply laughed at him. But at least one person wasn't amused.

"I had seen the video going around originally and it really bothered me," Jordan Uhl, the video distribution manager at MoveOn.org and a former A Plus writer, told A Plus. "It was clear he was not having a great day. Nobody willingly shaves on the train. So for the other passenger to film and mock him really annoyed me." 

After the video went viral, Uhl's intuition turned out to be correct: Torres' family contacted The Associated Press to explain that he was shaving on the train because he had just left a homeless shelter, and was trying to make himself presentable before arriving at his brother's home. That same brother had sent Torres money so he could take the train to his suburban New Jersey home from New York City.

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"My life is all screwed up. That's the reason I was shaving on the train," Torres told The Associated Press

Shortly after his story was told, the user who uploaded the video — and had tried to monetize it — took the video down and deleted their Twitter account. Uhl, though, was moved when he read the story, and decided to do something about it. So he started a GoFundMe for Torres. It has already raised more than $16,000 in less than 24 hours.

"My goal is to help Anthony get back on his feet and get ahead," Uhl said. "So many people in this country live paycheck-to-paycheck and a majority of Americans can't afford a $500 emergency. So helping him get stable and have financial buffer room to have that stability as time goes on."

Uhl first contacted The Associated Press reporter who covered Torres' story, and then tracked down the family through him. He said they were extremely grateful for the GoFundMe and were going to help transfer the funds to Torres. 

"They told me about Anthony's struggles lately and how they've tried to help him, but the problem with poverty is that it's cyclical and systemic," Uhl said. "So while he's tried to advance himself he's continued to struggle despite his best efforts."

Data backs up Uhl's observations about poverty. Research from the Urban Institute found that children who grow up in poor families are "significantly less likely to succeed economically as adults than their nonpoor and less-poor counterparts," and adds that just "16 percent of persistently poor children are consistently connected to work or school as young adults and are not poor in their late 20s." The cyclical nature of poverty is tough to break even for those who enter it as adults. One-quarter of those who go homeless fall into a cycle of "chronic homelessness," and the rates of chronic homeless went up 12 percent in 2016, according to the U.S. Department of Housing an Urban Development

Uhl said that he felt like this was the kind of effort it took to help get someone ahead. Incredibly, the entire GoFundMe was born out of a viral video that was meant to mock Torres. Now, that video has rallied more than just the internet trolls — it's brought together a group of people willing to offer a helping hand. 

"Obviously this would be nothing without all the people who donated and shared," Uhl added. "So it's much larger than just me, it's a collective effort and shows the power of people coming together to help those in need."

Cover image via littlenySTOCK / Shutterstock.com.

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