St. Clair Shores police Officer Todd Bing speaks to Dolores Marotta, of Roseville, Aug. 31 at Citgo, 28500 Little Mack Ave. in St. Clair Shores. An online fundraiser has been set up for Marotta.
By: Kristyne E. Demske | C&G Newspapers | Published September 7, 2018
ROSEVILLE/ST. CLAIR SHORES — “God must have sent Officer Bing to me.”
Dolores Marotta has lived in her house in Roseville, just west of Interstate 94, since 1989. But when her husband died in 2015, she got behind on her taxes and has just recently come close to catching up on the payments to the city. She said she still owes $1,000.
She has other worries, as well.
A house next door to hers was torn down by the city, but a tree stump was left and the roots are now going under the foundation of her home, cracking her floors.
“I don’t have thousands of dollars to have this fixed,” she said.
Though Marotta, 73, doesn’t have too many places to go, she said she has to get to the grocery store every few weeks and the doctor every couple of months. She only puts what gas she can afford in the car that her daughter gave her to use, which also has problems — it leaks oil and power steering fluid.
Every so often, she drives east on Martin Road into St. Clair Shores and stops to fill up at the closest gas station to her house, the Citgo at 28500 Little Mack Ave.
“She doesn’t come often. She’s always paid $2, $2.50, a couple dollars worth of change,” said owner Seth Kazz, whose family has owned the station for 20 years.
Before 9 a.m. Aug. 31, Marotta pulled into the station and made her way slowly into the store like she had in the past, putting a few dollars on the counter and asking Kazz to put that on the pump to fill her car.
Moments earlier, St. Clair Shores police Officer Todd Bing had just started his shift, and he stopped by the gas station to get something to drink, when Marotta walked in.
“She had a cane. She wasn’t moving very well,” Bing said. “She put like a dollar bill or two, crumpled up, and some change on the counter, and she asked for that to be put on (her) pump. I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, that’s not right.’”
Bing followed Marotta out to the pump and started talking with her, then told her to have a seat in her vehicle while he pumped gas for her.
What happened next has inspired hundreds of donors.
Bing walked back into the station and handed Kazz $20, telling him to put that on Marotta’s pump as well.
“I went out there and I pumped and she thanked me. She said, ‘I didn’t give him that much money.’ I said, ‘Don’t worry about it,’” Bing recalled.
As they spoke, she began telling him about some of her problems and that she was having trouble making ends meet.
“I felt better about who I was helping,” he said. “I just felt, you know, I’ve got to help this lady.
“I’m guessing anyone that saw this would have done the same thing. It was really apparent to me.”
Kazz said he was so moved by Bing’s actions that he snapped a picture and posted it to Facebook.
“It blew up,” he said. “I figured, how can we help this lady?”
Kazz said he had a lot of people asking him how they could help, and so he decided to set up a page to collect donations for Marotta at www.gofundme.com/wm7pu-helping-the-elderly. His goal was to raise $5,000 to help her pay her bills, buy groceries and gas, and fix her house. It launched Sept. 4 and raised more than $8,500 in just two days.
“This has inspired me to give,” Kazz said.
He said he can’t believe how generous people have been to the cause, and that he hopes to be able to help others as well.
“God must have sent Officer Bing to me, because it was something I was entirely unaware of,” said Marotta, who added that she has been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support and media coverage of the story. “I appreciated, that day, (Bing) putting the gas in my car because I only had $3 left until I got my Social Security check.”
Bing, a 17-year veteran police officer who has been with the St. Clair Shores Police Department since 2007, said he was happy to have inspired generosity in others.
“You’re supposed to take care of the elderly and people in need if you have the means to do it,” he said. “It must have been the right time. People must have needed to hear this, see this. I know it happens all the time.
“It’s putting the right message out. We care about our community and they care about us, so we take care of them.”
Marotta said that she and her husband always tried to help others when they could, and it seems “like a dream” that others are stepping up to help her now. She knows there are plenty of other senior citizens that are in need, as well, she said.
“I appreciate anything. It’s so good that Seth has done everything for me. I go in there, we say hello, but we were total strangers up until now. Now he seems like a son to me,” she said. “I am so grateful for the officer and Seth for doing everything that they’re trying to do to help me, and then all the people that have donated ... I want them to know that I just appreciate it with all my heart.
“I don’t want anybody to think that I don’t appreciate every penny.”