MEMPHIS, Tenn. — When life gets you down, and it looks like there’s nowhere to turn, a lot of us lean on relatives to help, and we find, sometimes, that our friends become more like family.

Getaway Sports Bar on Winchester advertises good food and good friends. It’s where Mary Thomas worked as a waitress and met James Johnson three years ago.

Life has been tough for James recently and she wants to help him.

“I hope it puts shelter over his head for one and just give him some encouragement that things are gonna get better,” Mary said.

She asked James to meet her for lunch near the pool hall, but before she goes in, we counted out the Pass It On money.

When we walked to the restaurant, we found James sitting in a booth.

“I want to pass it onto you because you’re going through such a hard time, and I’d like for you to stick your hand out, and this is a donation to help you with your troubles. 300 is from News Channel 3, and you get 700 more from an anonymous donor for a total of $1,000,” Mary told him.

She counted out the money, and James suddenly knew he was not in this struggle alone.

“It will give me some place I can lay down and sleep at night, put a little food on the table for me,” he said.

James battled leukemia for ten years but recently decided to forgo treatments.

“They’ve taken me off chemo and so forth, and then we’re just going to let it run its course,” he said. “We’re not gonna do anything else with it.”

Health challenges cost James his job and two weeks after that, the mobile home he rented caught fire, destroying everything he owned inside.

James’ trailer home destroyed by fire

He has no family nearby. James was raised at Memphis Boys Town orphanage. He credits good friends with helping him through life.

“It means a lot to me that this lady had enough heart and everything to care that much for me,” he said.

James is looking for a permanent place to stay and a job he can work with his health challenges. Hopefully, the Pass It On cash will help him meet some of his most pressing needs until then.