Updated: Jul 1
Cooper, a Kindergarten student at Meadowfield Elementary School, was assigned a project on "Ending Poverty in America" for his class. There were two requirements for the project:
Increase the awareness of poverty in your neighborhood
Do something to help.
His kindergarten teacher, Dr. Ali Jenkins, shared with the class that she was homeless at ages 3 and 17. Her vulnerability and Cooper's love for his teacher put a face to the issue in his mind. He decided he wanted to help kids, like Dr. Jenkins was, who were experiencing homelessness.
His mom was familiar with Oliver Gospel, but had not heard about Toby’s Place. As she was scrolling through our webpage, she saw a link for Toby's Place with a list of our current needs. Using this list, Cooper decided that collecting these things for the mamas and babies at Toby's Place would be how he accomplished step 2 of his project.
If you ever meet Cooper, you will know he is not a shy kid within seconds! Living in his own little COVID-less world, he wanted to literally go into people's houses and get stuff to help these women and children. Graciously empowering his excited spirit, his mom compromised by agreeing to send flyers around the neighborhood instead.
One day, Cooper and his older sister Callie stood with signs that said, "Honk for ending poverty!" Three hours, $200, and two vans full of donations later, The need that had struck a chord in Cooper's hear had been filled! A few days later, Cooper, Callie, their mom, Angela, and Grandmother, Alice, came to Toby's Place to deliver their bounty from their community. While there, they were able to meet three of the mamas and infants that benefited from their generosity.
During a time when we all want to go inside people's houses and meet – whether that is to gather supplies for women and children in need or share a warm meal and pleasant conversation – people are starving for community.
Poverty, hardship, and trauma are all around us. For men, women, and children in need, they especially need people who understand their situation and are willing to listen. Yes, they need things like diapers and formulas to help keep their babies healthy, but more than that, they need one another. We all need one another. Cooper and our Toby's Place mamas need one another.
If Cooper's story resonated with you and you are ready to do something for those in need around you then contact us! We always have needs at our Men's Center on Taylor Street, at Toby's Place, and in our Admin offices. Please reach out and let us know how you want to help! We all need each other.