Six-year-old Bethany Moultry is on a mission to help homeless people in her hometown one "happy bag" at a time.
Bethany’s mother, Colleen Moultry, said her daughter’s mission to help people without homes started last December when the two were running errands in Savannah, Georgia. Bethany saw a man standing on the side of the road with a sign asking for help.
“It broke my heart because she was crying in the backseat,” Moultry said. “She asked if she could break open her piggy bank and give him all her money.”
Moultry explained to her then 5-year-old daughter that maybe there was another way she could help him and give back. Together they came up with the idea for “happy bags” to fill with essential items and hand out to homeless people in their community. A typical bag consists of socks, two masks, Band-Aids, antibiotic ointment and body wipes as well as a cup of fruit, protein and a drink.
“We could’ve just given a donation to an organization, but with her being a child, I wanted to give her a tangible way to help others where she could see and understand who and how she was helping,” Moultry said.
Moultry said Bethany is so devoted to the project that when asked what she wanted for her sixth birthday, Bethany said she just wanted more supplies for her “happy bags.”
“I did not expect her to say that. I was expecting a new bike or big doll house. It really surprised me,” Moultry said. “At that point I knew I needed to find a way to make that happen.”
“They don’t have a home or have a lot of stuff,” Bethany said. “It makes me feel happy and feel good to help other people.”
Word spread, and soon Bethany was able to get additional supplies funded through an Amazon wish list. Local schools — including her brother’s school, the Matthew Reardon Center for Autism — also joined in the initiative to help put the bags together. For distribution help, Moultry said they have paired with various homeless organizations and the police department.
To date, Bethany has distributed over 750 bags.
“I’m so proud of her, I don’t even know if I can put it into words,” Moultry said. “I think sometimes it’s easy to look the other way when you see a difficult situation. It took my 5-year-old to point it out to me. If she was aware enough to see this, I wanted to come up with another way to help.”
Moultry said Bethany’s ultimate goal is to be able to build tiny homes for homeless people in her community. But for now, she hopes to reach out to other communities and educate people on what people experiencing homelessness need and how they can help, too. Helping with job training for homeless people and other services is another avenue they are exploring, according to Moultry.
“Seeing the amount of people she’s helped — I don’t think I ever could’ve imaged that it would turn into what it’s turned into,” Moultry said. “I’m just proud. Proud mama over here.”