There was no press at the Georgetown AMC movie theater on March 8, 2018, when Joe Biden took his granddaughter to see a show. But that didn't stop one viral photo purportedly of the former vice president from tugging at heart strings everywhere.
Moviegoer Caleb Baca snapped a pic of an unknowing Biden interacting with a man, believed to be homeless, sitting on steps near a sidewalk. The photo itself may be a little grainy, dark, and seemingly unremarkable, but its message struck a chord with thousands of people online.
Baca's photo was shared by D.C. businessman Paul Equale and has amassed over 120,000 likes as of publication, Fox 5 in D.C. reported.
The former vice president's office is not commenting on the photo, according to The New York Times.
"Say what you want about Joe Biden," one commenter wrote. "He’s nothing if not compassionate and kind. His life — through tragedy and triumph — is an example of grace."
The photo may have captured a generous act, but it also highlights a darker reality: D.C.'s homelessness crisis.
Surrounding the stunning capitol dome and pristine parks filled with tourists, skyrocketing housing costs have left thousands of city-dwellers calling the street home.
The nation's capital, ground zero for income inequality, has the highest rate of homelessness among the largest 32 American cities, according to a survey from the United States Conference of Mayors released last year. The research found there are 124 homeless people per 10,000 residents in D.C. — more than twice the national average — The New York Times reported.
It's a massive, complicated problem that can't be fixed overnight. But helping organizations solve the problem — and, yes, giving directly to homeless people when you feel moved to — can make a big difference. As Biden showed us, a simple act of kindness means a lot.
"I'm not exactly sure what he gave the homeless man," Baca told Fox 5. "But he appeared to write something down on a piece of paper inside the movie theater, which he then proceeded to give the homeless man outside."
As Equale wrote in his caption, "character is about what you do when no one is watching."
To learn more about and fight homelessness in the capital, visit Coalition for the Homeless Washington, D.C.