Homeless numbers in New Orleans are a problem, but Kyllon and Derrell Martin Jr. are becoming well known around the city for their outstanding community spirit and determination in tackling the issue.
The boys, who are 9 and 10 respectively, have spent the past few years making lunches to provide to local homeless people.
They set up The Helping Lunch Box Project, an initiative which they hope, in time, will eradicate hunger in the city, which has one of the highest rates of homelessness in the US. The Martin family moved to Alabama in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, but relocated to their original home of New Orleans in 2010. Upon witnessing so much hunger and poverty in the city, the pair began physically making lunches for the men and women they saw on the street. According to the Atlanta Blackstar:
The first two times they went out to feed the homeless, the brothers visited a group of citizens under a local bridge called the Crescent City Connection. Kristy Martin and husband Derrell Sr. bought the sandwich supplies, cookies, water and snacks for the lunch bags. The boys’ 13-year-old sister, Hermione, helped design and customize paper bags with inspirational messages. And the brothers and their mom made sandwiches. Everyone pitched in because everyone cared. Others began to recognize the good these two young men were doing. Over the course of two years, donations began to pour in from family members. Kyllon and Derrell even recruited their friends to help pass out food.
Upon hearing of their good deeds, established New Orleans-based non-profit organisation B.O.S.S. Youth Outreach Program paired up with the brothers, to help them help even more people affected by homelessness and hunger.
“This is their baby, their project, and we just came on board to help them grow it,” B.O.S.S. Youth Outreach co-founder Albert Jones Jr. told WDSU. “And it’s wonderful and refreshing to be so passionate about making a difference and making a change by simply just making lunch bags.”
Their mother also spoke with the station, commending her boys on their work;
“As their parent, I am glad that at such a young age they understand that there are people out here that actually need help,” Kristy Martin praised. “To see them being so selfless — taking time out of their day when they could be playing with their friends or playing video games — they encourage me to want to do better. So it makes me and dad feel like we have done something right to have such humble kids that think of others first.”