Virginia Saenz could hear the desperation in the voice of the telephone message. It was 5 a.m. on the day before Thanksgiving, and the caller, Lucy Crutchfield, was trying to tell her daughter that she'd send money for groceries -- but she'd have to miss a mortgage payment to do it.
But Crutchfield dialed the wrong number. Instead of getting her daughter, she got Saenz, a real estate agent from the San Diego suburb of Tierrasanta.
"I know right now we are all struggling," Saenz said. "Lisa on the phone, she sounded so desperate for her daughter, it broke my heart."
Saenz did the only thing she could think of -- she called Crutchfield back and said not to worry. Crutchfield would pay the mortgage, and Saenz would handle the groceries.
"She said, 'You have the wrong number ... don't worry any more,' " Crutchfield recalled.
For Crutchfield, it was a holiday miracle. Her house is already in foreclosure. Her mother recently passed away, and Crutchfield is now trying to pay off her house. She had a money order prepared to make a mortgage payment on that house -- but was going to cash it in when her daughter called asking for money.
"I thought I was going to lose that house, too," Crutchfield said.
Saenz told Crutchfield to keep her money and promised to take care of her daughter. The real estate agent then called Crutchfield's daughter.
"I asked her what she would like, what her kids like, and then I felt really bad because she said she only wanted eggs and milk," Saenz said. "When somebody only asks you for eggs and milk, they are in a really bad situation."
So Saenz went grocery shopping on Thanksgiving morning with her 14-year-old son in tow to tell her what kids liked to eat. They bought food for a Thanksgiving dinner and enough groceries to get Crutchfield's daughter through the end of the month -- her next payday.
She said the act of giving made "the day special for me."
"I helped somebody," Saenz said Friday. "I think it's what anybody would have done."
Eric S. Page reports about all things San Diego, but he draws the line at cat stories. You can follow his updates at twitter.com/espage or send him a story idea.