ABC13 viewers across the U.S. help out-of-work dad

HARRIS COUNTY, Texas (KTRK) -- When Gilbert Wallace was laid off from his job at a construction company earlier this year, he struggled to find odd jobs and enough money to feed him and his children.

He also didn't have a way to get to the store and getting rides from friends and family became harder and harder at the height of social distancing in mid-April.

13 Investigates' Ted Oberg introduced viewers to Wallace in April, when he was experiencing living in a northeast Harris County food desert, a low-income area where the nearest grocery store in an urban area is more than a mile away.

RELATED: 13 Investigates why some have a tougher time getting food

Viewers were moved by his story and soon help started pouring in from around the country, from Washington and Wisconsin to New York and New Jersey.

"I'll be honest with you, it was all unexpected. It really was. All of it. Every bit of it surprised us. It hit right here at home," Wallace told Oberg on Friday, as he put his hand on his heart.

After seeing Wallace's story on ABC13, Ivan Krunic, General Manager at Mercedes-Benz Houston North, said he wanted to help the father get his stalled 18-year-old car back up and running.

"We were touched by it," Krunic said. "Let's help our fellow Houstonian. Let's make sure that we can, as an essential business, assist everybody that needs to go back to work to provide."

On Friday, the dealership gave Wallace back the keys to his car, which had new tires for safety and other fixes to get it back up and running. Now, Wallace says he'll be able to get to work and the grocery store when he needs to.

"It's going to mean a lot," Wallace said. "It's actually going to get me there, back and forth."

After our story on ABC13, Wallace said so many people reached to help, and although he tried to turn some of them away, others just wouldn't take no for an answer. He started paying it forward and sharing with others in his community who he saw in need.

"It got to the point where I was like, 'Thank you, but we've got enough,'" Wallace said. "It's a blessing and it's a God send. There's no words I can say for how grateful I am to you. I'm very, very grateful."

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