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What this Norfolk man wants for Thanksgiving will hurt your heart

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Posted at 3:57 PM, Nov 19, 2014
and last updated 2014-11-19 16:16:33-05

NORFOLK, Va. — A homeless man in Norfolk posted an ad on a local television station’s Facebook page in hopes of making his Thanksgiving and Christmas a little less lonely this year.

“This is bed 13,” Neal Shytles says, pointing out a bottom bunk at the Union Mission Ministries men’s shelter. “This is where I lived for a year.”

Shytles told WTKR that has been staying at the Norfolk shelter for a year and a half. What he lacks in possessions, he makes up for with heart.

“You know I’m grateful for even being here,” he says, with a heart that is hurting.

That’s because while Shytles is surrounded by hundreds of people every day, he says he still feels alone.

“I am lonely like 365 days a year, but Christmas and Thanksgiving are two of the worst days,” Shytles explains. “And I really miss having some kind of family atmosphere around me.”

Last week, he reached out to WTKR and posted a want ad on the station’s Facebook page asking for a family to take him in for Thanksgiving.

“It would mean the world to me if somebody took me in,” he says. “Just for that one day, for a couple hours.”

Neal Shytles' ad on the WTKR Facebook page.

Neal Shytles’ ad on the WTKR Facebook page.

Shytles grew up in Hampton Roads and graduated from Princess Anne High School in 1980, but says he has no family left nearby.

“It hurts me to be alone, no family or nobody around,” Shytles says.

It’s a position Shytles says he never thought he would be in. After 15 years of driving a taxi, Shytles lost his job and the bills piled up.

Neal Shytles

Neal Shytles

“Everything that I’d saved up I started dishing out to people that were taking me in and everything was gone,” he says. “When I was dropped off at the front door here, I was one of these people that never thought I would be here.”

He now rents a room at the shelter, using money he collects from Social Security.

Lining up for dinner, Shytles said he is thankful for every meal and handout he gets. However, he said what he wants most is something money cannot buy.

“It would mean so much, because… I’m lonely and it`s just forming that relationship with somebody would be so important to me. It would mean so much and I would really cherish it.”