Jacquelyn Carson can be proud of her daughter Jayelle, a kindergartener at Discovery Primary School.
She had asked Jayelle a few months ago about ideas for her sixth birthday. Carson expected a party with her friends that would likely include a bouncy house or a few rounds of bowling. Nope, not for Jayelle.
After a day or so of thinking and pondering and reflecting, she said she wanted to get her friends together to spend an afternoon making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to then hand out at the homeless encampment known as the “Compound” along Tacoma’s Portland Avenue, a collection of about two dozen tents that is at the center of Tacoma’s emergency homelessness declaration. That idea then set the gears in motion that led to the addition of personal hygiene kits to also be handed out since food stamps do not include personal hygiene products.
“I thought that was interesting, but that was her wish,” Carson said.
Jayelle’s random act of kindness prompted talks with people at Emergency Food Network and city officials that led to the idea of purchasing small jars of peanut butter and plastic spoons and go to one of the farms to get some fruit. Valley Farms donated bananas.
An online fundraising effort raised $770 in two weeks, more than $200 beyond the goal. Jayelle’s birthday came and went on June 9 with preparations to hand out food and toothbrushes. She also gave out baskets to the local fire station. The family spent Father’s Day last weekend buying toothbrushes at discount stores and then handing them out with the food donations.
“The journey will not end there,” Carson said. “There is a farm here called Mother Earth and they grow food specifically for the homeless. We will be volunteering some time here.”
Rather than raising money to simply donate, Jayelle wants to be active with helping homeless people.
“She wants to have that personal time doing it,” Carson said. “She always feels so bad for the people on the side of the road.”
She often hands out water bottles when she sees panhandlers from her car seat while stopped at intersections.
Emergency Food Network provides 14.8 million pounds of healthy, nutritious food annually to 68 food pantries around Puget Sound, hot meal sites and shelters for distribution to families and individuals in need. More than 1.3 million visits were made to food banks in Pierce County each year.
The “Help Jayelle Feed the Homeless” project can be found on GoFundMe.