H elping our kids become kind, thoughtful humans and good citizens of the world is a major part of being a great parent. Clearly, the parents of 9-year-old Hailey Fort are succeeding in this area. When Hailey was just 5 she spotted a homeless man in her hometown in Kitsap County, Washington, and told her mom, Miranda, she wanted to help him. Since then, she's been helping the homeless with the help of her mom and dad.
Over the past four years, Hailey and her family have made friends with several homeless people in their area, providing them with food and other supplies. Her latest project is building mobile shelters for them, with the goal of building 12 shelters this year. The recipient of the first shelter, Hailey's mom told ABC News, is a man named Edward: "She [Hailey] went through all of her homeless friends and made the decision based on a number of things. This shelter doesn't have a place for a wheelchair, so it wasn't a good fit for Billy Ray. Similarly, it wasn't a good fit for her friend Tonka, a dog, and his owner. Edward stuck out because he has always been so gracious when receiving food."
The community donates many of the items needed to build the mobile shelters, bringing the cost down to about $300 each. The walls are made of pallets stuffed with recycled denim insulation, covered with wood siding and a shingled roof on the outside and drywall on the inside. The structures also have vinyl flooring, window curtains, a solar-powered lamp, and a lock on the front door. City ordinances allow the structures to be placed on church lots, and the family is talking with several churches that are open to providing the space.
Hailey is also growing fruits and vegetables to give to the homeless and hopes to grow 250 pounds for them this year through Hailey's Harvest. Plus, she's trying to raise $1,000 on her GoFundMe page to buy 1000 toiletries, 500 feminine hygiene products and 100 coats—and is about three-fourths of the way there.
Are you as inspired by Hailey and her family as I am? Building homeless shelters may not be right for your family, but there are lots of other ways to teach our kids the importance of giving back. You can design a no-sew superhero cape for a child living in a shelter to make him or her feel strong and powerful as part of the Capes for Kids program. Or send a handwritten letter or card to a newly diagnosed breast cancer patient as part of the Girls Love Mail program. Make a flat teddy bear for The Hugs Project, which sends them to military stationed overseas who hand them out to children in war-affected areas. While you're at it, weave a paracord survival bracelet for Operation Gratitude to include in its care packages sent to troops deployed overseas. Make no-sew fleece blankets for newly sheltered animals to donate to a shelter that particates in the Snuggles Project,or donate the blanket to your local chapter of Project Linus, which gives blankets to children in crisis through hospitals, shelters, and other agencies. Or transform a pillowcase into a beautiful dress for a little girl in a developing country as part of Sew Gorgeous, or sew a traveling pillowcase for a child living in shelters as part of Enchanted Makeovers' mission to transform the shelter experience for women and children.
Let Hailey's acts inspire you and your family!
Related: Raise a Compassionate Child
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Parenting Style: Positive Parenting
Image via Hailey's Harvest Facebook page.