When my car broke down on my way back to college my senior year my parents came and picked me up so I wouldn't have to find, get to, and pay for a hotel until my car was fixed. It was especially good since my car didn't end up leaving the shop until five days later at which point my father drove me back to pick it up and continue my drive to school.
My SO and I have, very fortunately, never been unemployed and a steady stream of paychecks has been a big help in our financial success. Our support systems through family and friends have been very key in landing many of our jobs. My previous job I discovered through the advice of a friend. He suggested a niche field I had never heard of, but my experience qualified me for and sent my resume to the manager of hiring at a company he'd worked with. That landed me a fascinating new job that paid me 30% more than my previous one.
When my SO went looking for a job a year ago another friend pulled through with a reference to a person at a sought-after company whose HR department was known to be a resume black hole. My SO landed the job but that friend was key in getting the interview. When my SO traveled to the city of the new job on short notice for an interview we looked to friends for free housing for the night before and after. We've returned the same favors for different friends and try to help out in other areas.
I wouldn't hesitate to help out a friend who was in that student's situation. I might not give them money, but I would certainly visit them potluck-style and leave the leftovers or have them over frequently if transportation wasn't an issue. Carpooling where I pick up the tab would also be something I'd offer if appropriate. That being said, I never have done anything like this either because none of my friends or family have been in such dire straits or I haven't been aware of their situation. Now I'm wondering if any of my friends are in this situation but have too much pride to let anyone know, just like the original commenter.
Do you have a support network? Who's in it and when has it helped you out? Have you come to a friend or family member's aid?