JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – Thanks to generous CBS4 viewers, a once-homeless man has a new truck and leads on potential landing spots for housing. Joseph Kniss, who lived on the streets for more than 12 years, told CBS4 the truck he uses to sell scrap metal was severely damaged by another driver.
Days later, Jefferson County code enforcement officers told him he could not live in his RV on his landlord's property.
After his interviews with CBS4's Conor McCue and Dillon Thomas, the community stepped up and offered their possessions and land to help Kniss. One couple, John and Carol Sessum, saw McCue's initial report on the truck collision and decided to help.
The Sessum's drove several hours, and more than 200 miles, to give Kniss their 1994 Dodge pickup truck. Though aging, the truck is in great condition and offers more features than Kniss' previous work truck.
"Wow, it is beautiful," Kniss said as the family pulled up in the truck. "Totally more than I expected."
The donation was made possible after the Sessum's contacted CBS4, asking to reach out to Kniss. A week later, the Sessum's handed Kniss the keys to his new truck.
"Wow, awesome, I got a new set of keys and a new truck. Yay!" Kniss said.
"When you run across somebody that really needs help, that is when I like to stand up," John Sessum said. "When I saw (the CBS4 report, Kniss') story caught me. And I said hey, 'I got to help this guy out.'"
The donation came just two days after Kniss learned a neighbor complained to the county about his presence at a home in unincorporated Jefferson County. As someone who was living in a dumpster years prior, the ability to pay $200 a month to park his vehicle on a lot was rewarding. However, after the complaint was issued, county officials were forced to tell Kniss he was not allowed to live in his RV on the lot for more than two weeks a year.
With so many things in such a short period of time impacting his ability to stay on his feet, Kniss said the truck donation was enough to bring him a smile.
"Thank you so much, John. I can't thank you enough. This is just fabulous," Kniss said. "Let's get this thing rolling, I want to drive it!"
Kniss took CBS4's Dillon Thomas on the first ride in his new truck. He noted it operated at a better efficiency than his damaged truck, and also said it would be more powerful at pulling trailers for his scrap metal work.
"(Driving the truck) feels great, dude. It really does. I am back in business again," Kniss said. "I thought this would take another two-and-a-half years to get back to something like this. God actually blessed me with something better."
Kniss, who describes himself as a Christian who is trying to work hard and follow God's guidance, said the truck would help him get back to work and bring in more money.
Many CBS4 viewers contacted the station following Thomas' report on the RV housing situation, including a county commissioner. Many offered places around Colorado for Kniss to legally park his camper long-term, while the commissioner mentioned intentions to help Kniss land low-income housing.
The Sessum's said it was Kniss' desire to improve his situation and work hard to get out of homelessness, which encourages them and others to offer help.
"You see the drive in his eyes. I think he will be alright," John Sessum said.
"Channel 4 viewers, thank you so much," Kniss said.
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