10-year-old helps homeless

Published 11:25 pm Friday, December 23, 2016

A fifth-grader with a heart for the homeless got to lend a helping hand this holiday season.

Khamani Jones, 10, who attends Oakland Elementary School, got the idea at Thanksgiving, when she saw how much food the family had left over and realized there were some who had none at all.

“I wanted to help the homeless people, because sometimes we pass them and they don’t have enough food to eat,” she said. “I wanted to help feed them.”

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That simple idea evolved into much more for Khamani and her family.

They initially sought a place to offer food to the homeless and got hooked up with the Coalition Against Poverty in Suffolk, which holds the Night Stay program at local churches during the winter for homeless people to have a warm place to stay.

Khamani and her family went to Westminster Reformed Presbyterian Church on Godwin Boulevard on Dec. 19 and helped set up for the night. They also left bagged lunches for the guests to take with them the next day.

But the effort went far beyond feeding the homeless. After Khamani’s mother, La’Rhonda Hall, wrote about it on her Facebook page, a lot of family and friends donated to the effort.

“People don’t hesitate to help kids,” Hall said. “I give a lot of thanks to people that helped them.”

People even left donations at their door to help Khamani make her project bigger and better.

“I had people leaving stuff on my porch,” Hall said.

Soon, the family had made about 30 bags to hand out to homeless people when they encounter them.

The bags include toothpaste, a toothbrush, hats, gloves, socks, tissues, deodorant, a snack and even hand sanitizer.

“That’s in case their hands get dirty,” said Khamani’s 6-year-old sister, Ki’Auri, who helped make the lunches and pack the bags.

“It’s not much, but it’s still a help,” Hall said. “We’re trying to help people that don’t have it.”

The family also collected water, canned goods and Christmas gifts to benefit the homeless.

“It made me feel good,” said Khamani, whose father is Ka’Ron Jones.

Hall said she is glad her two youngest daughters — she has three older children ages 15 to 23 — were able to do the service project.

“I’m just proud of my babies,” she said.

In the spirit of helping the homeless, Westminster Reformed Presbyterian Church has also stepped up. The church originally volunteered for last week’s Night Stay slot, but added this week’s slot when it appeared homeless folks in Suffolk might be on their own the week of Christmas.