The Herald Bulletin

December 31, 2013

Holiday spirit gives homeless Anderson couple a boost

Readers rush to aid of Michael Camp, Candi Clark

By Jack Molitor
The Herald Bulletin

ANDERSON, Ind. —

On Christmas Eve, Michael Camp and Candi Clark were living in a tent behind Marshalls off Scatterfield Road. They were preparing for a homeless Christmas in frigid Indiana. But they had each other.

By Sunday, the couple was under a warm roof, preparing to start new jobs this week. They still have each other, and now they have several new friends who have helped the two start their lives anew. 

What a difference a week made, Clark said.

"It's overwhelming. It's truly amazing. We never knew so many people could come together to help us like they have. We're so grateful."

After reading in The Herald Bulletin about Camp and Clark living in their makeshift home since September, several readers began a social media campaign to seek help for the couple. And a few chipped in so the couple would have a place to stay, at least for Christmas. One woman rented a room for the pair for a full day. 

Clark and Camp now have a room in the Motel 6 off Scatterfield, at least through the first week of the New Year.

"A lot of people have been stepping up," said Billy Hooten, an Anderson man who has come to the couple's aid.

Hooten, a race car driver at Anderson Speedway, and friend Brian McKinney were in Hooten's garage on Christmas Eve reading the story about Clark and Camp. They quickly discussed splitting the costs of a motel room for one night so the couple could have a warm shower and bed on Christmas. 

Before long, contributions poured in from at least a dozen other people, providing food, clothing and money.

Hooten also used business connections to set up job interviews for Clark and Camp at Cracker Barrel and a construction company in Carmel, respectively. The couple expect to start those jobs this week.

"I just thought to myself, that's an awful way to spend Christmas, and I wanted to do something about it," Hooten said. "It makes me feel good."

It's an especially timely gift for Camp, who served four years in the Army immediately following the Vietnam War. The Gainesville, Texas, native turns 58 today.

"Right after that story, people started coming down" to the couple's tent off Scatterfield, Camp said. "Everyone pitched in. Helped us clean up. Helped us move. I feel so blessed."

Clark expressed gratitude to everyone who offered support. It's usually a string of bad luck, she said, that leads to homelessness, and it takes a string of good luck to turn things around.

"You can't try to jump out of this too fast, but we're survivors, and we have ambition. We're going to play it by ear," Clark said. "We're just trying to get back on our feet, and we're not giving up hope. If you can survive a little of the worst, you can make it through anything."

Follow Jack Molitor on Twitter @aggiejack4, or call 640-4847.