Josilyn Chambers, a student at Bessie Ellison Elementary School, remembers noticing a homeless man upon walking out of Hy-Vee.
She would go on to offer him a bottle of water, a gesture that would incentivize her to create the Everyone Matters Project.
“We started to think, ‘Well, we should help more people,’” Chambers said.
The project has Chambers and her family gathering backpacks that they fill with various goods: toothbrushes, hand sanitizer, dry socks, food, water bottles and the like. They then take those bags Downtown to the streets, homeless shelters and the Open Door Food Kitchen to give to those in need.
Chambers said it feels good to provide for those less fortunate.
“And in the winter, we’re going to start saving up some of our donation money for blankets, hats and gloves so that we can make them winter items,” Chambers added. “It makes me feel good giving to people.”
The process has Chambers, and sometimes a family member, laying all of the items out on the floor and essentially going down the line of goods, packing backpacks full of each item.
A Facebook page was started to bring awareness to her endeavor, and it currently sits at more than $1,000 in donations and 150 likes in less than a month’s time.
Chambers’ mother, Becky, said she was happy to see her daughter take the initiative with the Everyone Matters Project, and hopes to see her daughter grow through the experience.
“She has a very giving, sweet spirit. You can tell just by her wanting to do this. We’re just proud that it makes her feel good to help people,” Becky Chambers said of her daughter.
As of Labor Day, Chambers has handed out 52 bags in total. And that number is expected to climb.
“I just hope it encourages people to help the homeless and make the world better,” Josilyn Chambers said.
If you’d like to donate or help with Everyone Matters Project, visit the organization’s Facebook page.