An Australian Big Issue seller has melted hearts after buying 100 roses to give away on Valentine's Day, purely to see the "joy and smile on people's faces".
Lance Smith shared the story of Cameron, who has been homeless on and off for many years, after encountering him selling street newspaper The Big Issue in Nobbys Beach, south of Brisbane. After Cameron told Smith to "have a great day", the filmmaker returned to buy a copy of the newspaper and find out a bit about his past.
Smith wrote on Facebook: "His dad fell sick when he was in his 20s and was taken into permanent care leaving Cameron unable to afford the rent on his own. He has been in and out of homelessness for many years, including a two-year stint at The Spit, living in a dome tent with his possessions buried in a wheelie bin.
"Being diagnosed with schizophrenia and suffering from depression, he has been unable to hold down full-time employment. He started selling The Big Issue in December and told me since selling it his depression has significantly reduced, he feels like he has purpose, and genuinely enjoys getting up in the morning to go sell it. He said the best he's sold in one day is 10, making him $35."
Smith also found out that Cameron was excited about Valentine's Day, and that he planned to buy $100 worth of roses to give away at Nobbys Beach. Smith said: "I asked him how much he was going to sell them for and he replied, 'Nothing, I'll be giving them out for free. I just like to see the joy and smile on people's faces.' This blew my mind and put tears in my eyes."
Smith described Cameron as a "beautiful human with a massive heart" and was so touched that, on Tuesday (13 February), he took his new friend to Aldi and they bought 50 roses each. Cameron planned to sell The Big Issue and give the roses away at Nobbys Beach shops from 7.30am on Valentine's Day.
A short video posted by Smith showing Cameron with the roses has been viewed more than 1.3 million times, and the full post has been shared more than 20,000 times and liked 88,000 times.
The Facebook comments under Smith's post are full of admiration and appreciation at Cameron's gesture. He was described as an "awesome human", a champion and a "lovely, kind and generous and selfless man".
People also urged this as a wake-up call for wider appreciation and conversation with Big Issue sellers. One person wrote: "I'm so glad there are men like you Lance Smith who have taken the time to recognise this man's value, when so many clearly have not." Another said: "All of the people that sell the Big Issue have a story to tell, don't wait to go to Cameron buy your big issue off anyone selling it."