After the man left with his food, Coyner and her daughter stepped up to the counter.
"If your parents knew what you just did," Coyner told Francesca, "they'd be so proud of you right now."
That's when Francesca started crying.
"She told us her mother had died not even a year ago," Coyner wrote. "She told me I'd just made her day by saying that."
When I called Francesca to talk about what happened at KFC that day, she told me her mother had instilled in her a desire to help others. It had been important to her.
Francesca, an only child, was still in high school when she found her mom's body the day before Mother's Day in 2010. The death was ruled accidental. Francesca lived in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., at the time. She is now a student at West Virginia State University majoring in elementary education.
Although the man never returned to the restaurant, Francesca had been prepared to do what she could to help him.
"You never know what someone has gone through," she said. "Everyone has a story. We all have something we're trying to survive."
Just because the man wasn't ready to be helped doesn't lessen what Francesca attempted to do that night.
"The example she set for my daughter -- and for me -- that day changed us," wrote Coyner. "It brings tears to my eyes when I think about it. As long as I live, I will never forget that night. It wasn't about the food she gave him, or the money she offered him. It was her compassion for a total stranger, the decency she showed another human being, regardless of how dirty he was."
Charity sees the need, not the cause.
Far too often, we underestimate the power of a kind word or a small act of caring.
Both of which have the potential to change a life.
Reach Karin Fuller at karinful...@gmail.com.