“I won’t stop until veterans have everything they need!”
When 4-year- old Tyler Stallings learned many of our veterans are homeless, he wanted to build houses for them himself. He was too young to swing a hammer, but he still found a way to honor and help our country’s heroes!
Andrea Blackstone’s 4-year-old son, Tyler Stallings, adores her dad and has always loved hearing stories about his gramps’ time in the military. So when Tyler saw a clip of veterans carrying signs about homelessness while watching Youtube videos with his mom, he became confused and upset.
“How come they don’t have homes?” he asked.
Andrea tried explaining the difficult problem. But Tyler had a simple solution. “Let’s go to the hardware store and buy a hammer and nails. I’ll build houses for them myself.”
Andrea smiled proudly at her son’s open heart. “That’s a big job. Maybe we can think of something else we can do,” she suggested.
After some thought Tyler announced, “Mom, I want to spend a whole day doing nice things for homeless vets.”
With money of his own and more from family, Tyler and his mom headed to their local Halethorpe, Maryland, Dollar Tree store and bought products he figured homeless vets might need— shampoo, deodorant, socks and razors.
“I’m calling them Hero Bags,” Tyler proclaimed as he sorted items into plastic sacks, tied them with ribbons and attached a note: We’re proud of you. Thank you for your service.
The next day, Tyler and his mom headed to a nearby shelter for homeless veterans.
“These bags are great! Thank you for caring,” one elderly resident told Tyler with a hearty handshake.
“We don’t get a lot of visitors— especially shortstack soldiers like yourself,” said another.
Tyler loved talking to the vets and told his mom, “I want to do this again.”
Andrea agreed but explained they’d have to raise money to fill the Hero Bags.
Over the next several months Andrea posted Tyler’s donation pleas on her Facebook page and set up a Gofundme. Soon he was raising even more money selling “Veterans Rock!” shirts and hats on his own website (Kidtimeenterprises.com).
As money flowed in, Tyler continued distributing Hero Bags to vets in shelters and nursing homes. He also handed out store gift cards to homeless vets he spotted on the streets.
Today, the now 9-year-old has raised more than $ 70,000 and given out nearly 4,000 Hero Bags, which these days also include masks and hand sanitizer in backpacks, duffle bags and suitcases so the vets have something to store their belongings in.
Former Army tank gunner Shawn Doggett had been drug-free for only a few months when he first met Tyler. “When Tyler handed me my Hero Bag, I choked up and realized that this is exactly the sort of joyful feeling that makes life worth living. The little guy doesn’t even know the profound effect he has on us vets,” Shawn says.
All Tyler knows is that there are still many veterans who need help. “I won’t stop until all of our heroes have everything they need,” Tyler vows. “They served our country. We want them to feel honored, loved and cared for.”
Navia, 8 months, submitted by GreatGrandmother Elaine Morris, AL