"Somebody's about to get an ABC umbrella who's been going through a tough time recently," he cheerily told the camera crew in the front garden, before jogging inside to meet the bereaved mother-of-five.
"We have an umbrella and I've never actually signed one of these before," George says chuckling heartily as he bestowed the gift, with the cameras capturing the moment. "But you have your own ABC13 umbrella, to you, bringing you sunshine on a rainy day."
Out in the front yard, Mary was sheltered from the sun under her new umbrella as she detailed what she had recently been through.
"It was rough to see my home burning up and then apparently that night my sister had passed away on her way to my house," she lamented.
George found himself under heavy fire online for the idea; but as it turns out, it wasn't his idea at all: the family had personally reached out to him to ask him to replace an umbrella Mary had lost in the fire, revealing their mother was actually a big George fan.
Of course, since this detail was missing from the report and the station's social media shares, poor George found himself fighting off attacks on Twitter all morning.
"@gflickinger bro wtf were you thinking giving that old lady who lost her house a signed umbrella? Kids out her getting 300k gofundme accounts for being called names and you pulling up with an umbrella? Lol. Bro. No." one wrote.
"You're honestly going to act like this wasn't absolutely absurd? You signed it like MJ tossing a basketball to a lucky kid, you're the weather guy and her sister died," another scorned.
Despite even sharing the email he received from the family literally asking for a replacement umbrella — which even claimed the mom had lamented the loss of her original as the firefighters were still fighting the fire — George could not win.
ABC13's original tweet which read: "This is AWESOME! @gflickinger surprised a Halifax County woman who lost her sister in an accident AND her home in a fire on the same night with a new ABC13 umbrella" was later deleted.
Because she asked for it. The family emailed me asking for a new umbrella and for me to deliver it. It's likely the most unique request I've ever received. This family is grieving-- This umbrella was important to making them smile. https://t.co/AKFaDMMfqE
Daniel- I honored the family's wish during a time of their grieving. An umbrella, replacing the previous one lost in the fire, is all they asked. They wanted to take family pictures with me. It warms my heart that a giving them a small item brought them smiles. https://t.co/lmpKwPvHAN pic.twitter.com/V1DBOE8mHf
Yes. Their family wanted to pictures and video with me. This was a big surprise to Mary (who lost her home) and the family made a large gathering of it. Their family shared the story on Facebook saying "thank you."- George https://t.co/MUPufDBDfd
Agreed about the misleading message. Headline should have been better written. Bottom line... this family gained some happiness from the new umbrella after awful losses. Her family chuckled that she liked the old one so much that she didn't use it. She didn't want to ruin it! https://t.co/u8d1wMtbGM
Hi Galvan. This is the response posted on my Fb page from her family. My trip to South Boston, Virginia to meet the mother was planned as a welcomed surprise and family gathering by her daughters. I honored the family's idea. https://t.co/T6Lybi4CCg pic.twitter.com/EF0cNUcqTR