Have you ever been walking down the street and you see a homeless person and wonder if you should step in to help? Kama Lee Jackson, Toronto mother and founder of Bloom, knows the feeling well and expressed it openly in a recent post on Mothering.com.
However, her youngest son, Wynn, doesn’t wonder. He knows he needs to help every homeless person he sees.
“The other day, as he caught sight of someone in tattered clothes, sitting on the sidewalk in the cold, he said, ‘I know being empathetic is a good thing, but the problem with it is that I feel sad every time I see someone who is homeless.'”
Since it’s so tough for him to walk past a homeless person without stepping in, Jackson used to always give her son a bit of cash to help the needy. Yet now they’ve moved on to something even better.
“Last year, when he was 8 years old … I suggested we pick up gift cards from coffee shops and fast food chains to hand out instead,” the mother wrote, “He jumped on the idea and started adding to the list of items he wanted to hand out.”
It didn’t take long for this to evolve even further. After a bit of research, Jackson discovered what items homeless people needed most. She went shopping with Wynn to get supplies for homemade care packages to give to homeless people living all across Toronto. These packages contained items like winter hats, tickets for public transit, toothpaste, and water bottles.
“He was consistently persistent, asking me daily when we’d be picking up the items to prepare the packages,” said Jackson, “When we finally had some time, he was nearly giddy with excitement.”
On December 31st 2016, Wynn, Jackson, her friend, and her friend’s son all squeezed into Jackson’s car and headed downtown. They handed out package after package. Since it was New Year’s Eve, the boys, happily greeted each recipient with a “Happy New Year.”
“Honestly, the looks on the faces of the recipients with these two sweet smiling boys was enough to bring anyone to tears,” Jackson wrote. “As my son climbed back into the car after handing out his first package, he said, ‘That felt really, really good.’”
While that was only one night nearly a year ago, Wynn still thinks about that night often and wonders if the people he helped are doing okay. At the end of last year, many of Jackson’s friends who missed the night of delivery said they’d be happy to donate to the project, if Wynn ever decided to do it again.
Unsurprisingly, Wynn wanted to bring the project back this year in full force and have it last continuously throughout the winter months instead of a simple one-night event. Jackson was more than willing to support this but only on one condition.
“I had to let him know that we could keep it going as long as it was sustainable financially on our limited single-parent household budget.”
So they started a GoFundMe campaign to supplement that budget. In a matter of days, dozens of people donated. Now they’ve nearly doubled their original target. Kids emptied their piggy banks to donate to the cause, and adults stepped forward saying that Wynn’s project “made [them] feel warm inside.” 16 days later, the campaign is still open with new donations rolling in regularly.
Many people have approached Jackson telling her that her campaign is great and that she must be doing something right as a parent. However Jackson asserts that she is not the one to thank.
“I cannot take any credit for this initiative because none of it was me. This was entirely and exclusively my son … The truth is, he is the one teaching me, giving me opportunities to grow, challenge my privilege, and take care of our fellow humans.”
Earlier in her post, Jackson joked, “I’ve always thought of myself as empathetic, but he makes me look like Darth Vader.”
“If I’m doing anything right as a parent at all … it’s just stepping back and giving my son space to be who he is and to let his star shine.”