Child homelessness is a growing crisis in the United States and it is reported that 1 in 30 American children or 2.5 million were homeless in 2013.
Now an 8-year-old girl from Wisconsin is fighting this battle on behalf of millions of homeless children like herself.
Third-grade student, Peyton was inspired at a very young age by her great-uncle Ricardo, who experienced the pain of homelessness in his life. She has a desire to help those less fortunate, she has done her research on the issue and says, “I also learned that there were homeless children and little children that are just like me,” Peyton said.
After coming to know that there were 2.5 million homeless children in the country, she said, “I don’t really like the sound … of that,” she said. “So I went to my mom, and asked if I could invite 100 homeless children to my birthday party.”
She wanted to host a birthday party where other kids could donate their presents to those who are less fortunate. So, she formed Eye of a Child, which not only raises awareness of the prevalent issue but directly sends money, toys and other products to homeless shelters around the Milwaukee area as well as in Los Angeles, where some of her family lives.
She has also created T-shirts and homemade crayon hearts to sell around her local community through various “pop-up shops.” All of the proceeds go toward the homeless shelters of her choosing. “I do believe every child deserves to smile,” she said. She reminds others of her mission as each shirt comes with that very saying.
Peyton was supported by the local community members who let her sell the shirts and homemade crayons outside their businesses, her mom, Leticia, said. She also received a slew of donations and was able to send goody bags filled with hygiene products to Joy House, a women’s shelter in Milwaukee. She also gifted them with a $500 check and a brand new toy for each child who was in the shelter.
As her birthday draws near, she has the same wish, rather than accepting her own presents, she wants to host a “community party” where people have the opportunity to drop off donations for those in need.
“Instead of having her birthday party surrounded by her friends and family, she has decided to make new friends at various homeless shelters in her local community and empower these children to share this day as a collective celebration,” the Eye of a Child website reads.
Peyton wants to raise another $1,000, and gather donations of hygiene products and toys, for two more shelters. She knows that it’s not possible for one person to make a difference but it’s going to take the efforts of the entire community. She hopes to inspire other children to have their friends donate to shelters on their birthdays as well.
“Just remember, it wasn’t only me. It took a village,” she said. Peyton has an important piece of advice for all those who want to make a difference in the loves of others, “If you have a dream, please follow it, don’t give up because you probably can reach your goal and I believe in you,” she said.