Toothpaste and toothbrushes, warm socks, gloves and hats were organized in clusters, ready to be packed into care packages for the homeless.
Trail mix, pretzels and beef jerky would provide the needy with something to eat. Lip balm and hand-warmers would come in handy when the weather turned cold.
Kennedy Walker, 6, Drew Mader, 6, and Mitchell Mader, 9, stepped around the piles of care package items. They looked with pride at what the more than $400 they had raised would do for those who needed help.
“I’m very, very, very happy that we did it. My dad told me that it makes you feel much happier when you do something for someone else instead of doing something for yourself,” Kennedy said.
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The three children spent Oct. 7 selling lemonade, apple cider, cookies, brownies and gently used toys in the Oak Meadows neighborhood in Greenwood. Dozens of people came to their stand, many giving $5, $10 or more to help with the effort.
With the $439 they raised, the children and their parents will accompany a ministry to the homeless in Indianapolis to distribute their care packages for the winter.
“I think it was a really good idea for us to shop and buy stuff for the poor. I’m really excited and happy that we can do it,” Drew said.
The whole project started when Kennedy and Drew, who are cousins, learned about the Works of Mercy in class at SS. Francis and Clare Catholic School. Their first-grade teacher, Mimi Hollsapple, explained that the teachings of Jesus emphasize acts of compassion, such as visiting the sick, sheltering the homeless and giving drink to the thirsty.
“We learned that one of those was feed the hungry, so we wanted to get all this stuff for the homeless,” Kennedy said.
Drew’s brother, Mitchell, heard about their plan and wanted to help too. He thought it fit well into what he had learned about Jesus and being generous in his third-grade classroom at Ss. Francis & Clare.
“I wanted to do something for the poor, because my teacher talks a lot about Jesus and tells a lot of cool stories about him. I wanted to be closer to God, and wanted to do something for the poor,” Mitchell said.
The week leading up to their lemonade sale, the children, helped by their parents, prepared. They went through their toys to find ones that were still in good enough condition to be sold.
Everyone baked cookies and brownies — complete with icing and sprinkles — the night before.
On the day of the sale, dozens of people stopped by to help. Neighbors had spread the word about the effort, and with nice, sunny weather, people wanted some lemonade to quench their thirst.
Often, they’d stop, learn more about what the kids were doing and make a larger contribution. One customer ended up buying an entire tray of brownies to support the cause. Another woman gave $1 but wanted to help even more, Drew said.
“She went back to her house so she could get more money to give to us,” he said.
The donations helped buy all of the items for the care packages. With 30 packages put together, the next step is for the family to help distribute the packages to the homeless.
Other members of the family are involved in different ministries working with the homeless in Indianapolis, so they will all be going together to places where the homeless are known to take shelter to pass out the items they were able to purchase.
“We’re so proud of them, that they were able to put this all together,” said Sarah Walker, Kennedy’s mother.