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What this Norfolk man wants for Thanksgiving will hurt your heart

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NORFOLK, Va. — A homeless man in Norfolk posted an ad on a local television station’s Facebook page in hopes of making his Thanksgiving and Christmas a little less lonely this year.

“This is bed 13,” Neal Shytles says, pointing out a bottom bunk at the Union Mission Ministries men’s shelter. “This is where I lived for a year.”

Shytles told WTKR that has been staying at the Norfolk shelter for a year and a half. What he lacks in possessions, he makes up for with heart.

“You know I’m grateful for even being here,” he says, with a heart that is hurting.

That’s because while Shytles is surrounded by hundreds of people every day, he says he still feels alone.

“I am lonely like 365 days a year, but Christmas and Thanksgiving are two of the worst days,” Shytles explains. “And I really miss having some kind of family atmosphere around me.”

Last week, he reached out to WTKR and posted a want ad on the station’s Facebook page asking for a family to take him in for Thanksgiving.

“It would mean the world to me if somebody took me in,” he says. “Just for that one day, for a couple hours.”

Neal Shytles' ad on the WTKR Facebook page.

Neal Shytles’ ad on the WTKR Facebook page.

Shytles grew up in Hampton Roads and graduated from Princess Anne High School in 1980, but says he has no family left nearby.

“It hurts me to be alone, no family or nobody around,” Shytles says.

It’s a position Shytles says he never thought he would be in. After 15 years of driving a taxi, Shytles lost his job and the bills piled up.

Neal Shytles

Neal Shytles

“Everything that I’d saved up I started dishing out to people that were taking me in and everything was gone,” he says. “When I was dropped off at the front door here, I was one of these people that never thought I would be here.”

He now rents a room at the shelter, using money he collects from Social Security.

Lining up for dinner, Shytles said he is thankful for every meal and handout he gets. However, he said what he wants most is something money cannot buy.

“It would mean so much, because… I’m lonely and it`s just forming that relationship with somebody would be so important to me. It would mean so much and I would really cherish it.”


  • alice jorgense

    My heart goes out to shytles if I lived in va I’d invite him to dinner I hope someone does unfortunately there are a lot of people just like him happy Thanksgiving everyone

  • Elizabeth Robinson

    This hurts my heart if i lived in VA i would let you come over with my family and eat this makes me wanna drive to VA just to get you. I hope you have a Happpy Thanksgiving i will be praying for you.

  • toni johnson

    Please tell me how to respond to this man’s request. My family just relocated to Fort Lee and I would like to know if we can help him for the holiday.

  • Shannon

    hes more then welcomed to come to my home with my family. In chesterfield I will even pick him up. Bless this man.

  • Deanna

    Although I don’t live in VA, I do live a few hours away and would love for Neal to join our family for Thanksgiving and I would also love to have him up for Christmas as well. How do we respond to him? We gave a large family and there is always another place at the table.

  • Otis

    Maybe FB could donate this guy a computer for the holidays so he could have access to FB and connect with people everywhere so he’s not alone 365 days a year. I’m sure it will lead to some good friendships and possible opportunities. Maybe even the “Biggest Loser” could reach out to this guy for obvious reasons. That could set a new tone is his life.

  • Paula

    You invite this man into your home huh? You don’t know if he have mental problems or while you in another room he could steal from you. He might be homeless but he has family somewhere. I wonder how many of you would really let this man sit at your table if he knock on your door.

  • Marie H

    Neal has family in Hampton Roads that has helped him over the years and taken him in. He chooses not to help himself and remain in the position he’s in. Some people really don’t want to change.

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