When 5-year-old Brayden Jenkins feels cold sitting in a car, he thinks about homeless people who have no car or home to sit in. Brayden worries people without coats will get sick. That’s why he started a coat drive in December. He partnered with Roc’s Barber Shop in DeKalb. Although Brayden lives in Marengo, he frequents Roc’s regularly.
“Roc has a PAC Man game and he sometimes lets me sweep the floor for quarters,” says Brayden when asked what he likes about Roc’s barber shop.
In response to Brayden’s concern about homeless people he’s seen in Chicago, Kendra Jenkins, Brayden’s mothers told her son that people can start coat drives to collect coats for people in need. From there, Brayden (and his mom) began his mission.
Brayden also offers to help with money from his piggyback. “When we go to the city, he sees homeless people on the sides of the roads, and he always wants to bring money from his piggy bank to give them,” Kendra says. “He thinks about if they’re cold or sick and what they need.” It was Brayden who suggested starting the coat drive at Roc’s, so he asked shop owner Jonathan Thompson (Roc) while getting his hair cut.
The coat drive will continue all winter. Roc took the first delivery of over 60 coats to Hope Haven of DeKalb County. Hope Haven’s mission is to provide shelter, meals, and life skills programs for homeless individuals and families while preparing them for re-housing. Hope Haven advocates for the rights of the homeless, and those at risk for becoming homeless, while working in collaboration with others to end homelessness in DeKalb County.
The two collection boxes have been filled more than once. Brayden also left a picture of himself with a typed letter explaining why donating coats is important to let customers know about the drive.
The two collection boxes Brayden’s family brought in already were filled with coats once before Christmas, after about a month of hosting the drive. Jenkins said Brayden’s family members and teachers have contributed to the coat drive as well, and they weren’t surprised that he came up with the idea because he always wants to help everyone. His teachers say Brayden helps put on their coats and zip them up in the winter.
The news of Brayden’s generosity spread across the country. Representatives from The Ellen Showed interviewed Kendra and talked to Brayden via video chat. Asked whether Brayden’s empathy came as a surprise to her, Kendra says, “Not really. He’s always been very emotional and nurturing to other people.’