Briar Cliff sophomore Jennifer Ocampo, from Los Angeles, Calif., was recently given $650 by an anonymous Siouxland woman so she could afford to fly home for Christmas. The woman was a BCU alum.
SIOUX CITY, Iowa — Jennifer Ocampo sat at Tran's Nails on Hamilton Boulevard one day last week, getting a pedicure.
A woman sat next to her and they began talking.
Ocampo, a Briar Cliff University sophomore, talked about class and softball and missing home.
That's an angel God put in front of me …. I want to find her because I didn't give her a hug. I want her to know how much this means to me.
— Jennifer O'Campo ('19), Briar Cliff student
The other woman, a Briar Cliff alum, spoke about her childhood, her parents and her role as a mother later in life.
"And then we talked about going home for Christmas," Ocampo said. "I said I wouldn't be able to go home for Christmas this year."
Ocampo brought it up because it was fresh in her mind, the sting of reality. She'd just checked with her mother in Los Angeles and learned that airfare was too high. Josesina Ocampo asked her daughter to stay in Sioux City over the holidays.
"My dad (Jose Ocampo) had his hours at work cut," said Jennifer, who is 19. "I wasn't going to ask for money to get home."
Last year, Jennifer did get a ticket home for the holidays, thanks to extended family members who pitched in to help cover the cost. Those funds weren't available this year as the family is paying for a funeral of a cousin, the cousin who helped spearhead the effort to fly Jennifer home last year.
The woman then rose to leave Tran's Nails. She walked away and Jennifer sat, alone in her thoughts for several minutes. Then, as she readied to depart, she noticed the keys to her vehicle were gone.
That's when the woman came back and approached Jennifer.
"I saw my keys in her hand and she apologized for picking up my keys by mistake," Jennifer said. "She handed me my keys and something else, some paper."
It was no mistake. The woman looked at Jennifer and admitted, "This is no mistake. You're going home for Christmas, honey." Jennifer looked down. The woman had handed Jennifer a wad of cash. It came to $650.