Richland boys help the homeless

By Sara Schilling, Tri-City HeraldDecember 25, 2012 

There were so many presents.They spilled out from underneath the Christmas tree at Everett LeRoy's Richland home. Even nearby tables were covered with colorful gift bags, too.

They weren't for Everett, 9.

But that was OK with him.

In fact, he declared it to be awesome.

Everett spent the last month or so collecting items for the homeless. He got a big assist from his family, which includes mom and dad Hayden and Colleen, and five brothers.

The LeRoys planned to distribute the gift bags Monday afternoon. They talked to the Herald earlier in the day -- and the boys couldn't hide their excitement.

Everett got the idea for the project while spending some time with his mom.

They went to Starbucks, and "we started talking," he said. "She asked me what I wanted to do when I grow up. I told her that I wanted to help the homeless, and she said, 'Well, maybe you could do that right now, instead of when you grow up.'"

They did some brainstorming.

At home, Everett enlisted big brother Lincoln, 10, to help with a flier. Lincoln used his expertise from a publishing class through Richland School District's Three Rivers HomeLink to create something special.

Word started to spread, and donations started coming. Hayden LeRoy is the youth pastor at First Baptist Church of Richland, and church members pitched in.

The boys reached their goal of collecting enough items for 100 gift bags. The family and some friends assembled them.

Each one is a little different.

The boys pulled out a couple to show what was inside. There were feet warmers, toothbrushes, toothpaste, Oreos and journals.

"We got hand warmers, too," Everett said.

And water bottles and gum.

Hayden LeRoy said the project is something his sons will remember. "I think it's exciting to (think up) an idea and then be able to put it into real life application -- to be able to actually see it through," he said.

Mom and Dad will remember it, too.

"It's been really neat to see their wonder at the whole thing," Colleen LeRoy said.

They'd light up when donations would come in, when people posted on Facebook about items they planned to give, she said.

Everett said he wanted to help because he feels bad when he sees people without a place to live. Along with him and Lincoln, the other LeRoy boys are: Hewitt, 7, Titus, 5, Phoenix, 3 and Kingston, 14 months.

The whole clan sat by the Christmas tree Monday, the gift bags piled around.

Hayden LeRoy said loving others is a key part of the family's Christian faith. His boys seem to have taken that to heart.

They said they're already thinking about collecting items for next year.

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