A Reno family was in need. So a stranger gave them $2,000.

CLOSE

Local man decides to donate his stimulus check to a needy family in Reno on April 28, 2020. Reno Gazette Journal

A silver-haired man in a red Toyota truck pulled up to a curb on Virginia Street in downtown Reno and tucked an envelope out the passenger window. 

Ashley Holmes never had met the man in her life, though she’d heard his voice over the phone the night before. 

“He told me that he was going to give me $800,” said Holmes, who is 14 weeks pregnant. 

Her not quite 2-year-old daughter, Riley, reached for the envelope from the stranger. When Holmes opened the envelope, though, there was a check for $2,000. 

“I opened it and my heart dropped in my stomach,” said Holmes. 

Holmes and her boyfriend, Chris Setser, were featured last week in a Reno Gazette Journal story about essential workers in Northern Nevada. 

The good Samaritan, Max, who asked only to go by his first name, read about the couple’s strife.

“They’re just kids. They need help,” said Max, an 82-year-old Forest Service retiree and U.S. Navy veteran. 

Max has been looking for a way to donate his stimulus check from the federal government. He’d been wanting to hand it off to someone, but with closures and self-quarantine measures, it’s been more difficult to find a way to safely give someone money outright. 

“I figured I’d just give it to them. I didn’t have any use for it,” said Max. “I mean, I could find something to do with it, but they need it more.”

Earlier this month, Setser told the RGJ about his concerns for Holmes’ health during pregnancy and the pandemic. The couple planned to use a portion of their own stimulus money toward buying a car, one that cost about $800. 

“Well, you can’t do much with $800,” said Max. 

The son of parents who survived the Great Depression and pinched pennies to make a life for themselves and their family, Max said he’s not looking for accolades. He just wanted to help. 

He and his wife of nearly 40 years donate to organizations such as the Food Bank, Planned Parenthood, the Democratic Party and other organizations that they believe in. Setser and his family seemed as good a cause as any at this time. 

The money will mostly go toward paying rent, which they already were behind on. 

“Even though it’s OK to get behind, we don’t want to get behind,” said Setser, who’s providing the only income right now.

He doesn’t want Holmes working because he wants to avoid exposing her and the baby to the novel coronavirus. Holmes said the money will also go toward paying the phone bill and purchasing diapers and wipes. 

“People say there are heroes that don’t wear capes, and this gentleman is definitely a hero. He’s a hero to our family,” said Holmes. 

Jenny Kane covers arts and culture in Northern Nevada, as well as the dynamic relationship between the state and the growing Burning Man community. She also covers the state’s burgeoning cannabis industry (Check out her podcast, the Potcast, on iTunes.) Support her work in Reno by subscribing to RGJ.com right here

Read or Share this story: https://www.rgj.com/story/news/2020/04/28/veteran-family-reno-unemployment-coronavirus-nevada-stimulus-check/3042865001/