Moorestown student mobilizes classmates to help homeless

Myles Leusner proudly shows two of the Homeless Care Kits that he and his classmates in Our Lady of Good Counsel School, Moorestown, prepared for distribution to homeless persons in Philadelphia and New York City. Courtesy photo

FROM THE MONITOR

By Mary Stadnyk | Associate Editor

Asking about toys and a visit from Santa was not at the top of Myles Leusner’s to-do list in the weeks leading up to Christmas. Instead, he focused on asking lots of questions about why people are homeless and what he might be able to do to help them.

Myles’ inquisitive and generous spirit led the second-grader in Our Lady of Good Counsel School, Moorestown, to spearhead a project during the Advent and Christmas seasons since “it made me feel sad because they don’t have a home or food.”

Myles and his mother, Laura, explained that the project of making Homeless Care Kits came about after their family observed a favorite tradition of visiting Philadelphia right after Thanksgiving where they go ice skating and walk around Center City, taking in the various holiday scenes. This year, Myles took greater notice of the many homeless people on the streets, which prompted him to ask questions like why they were homeless.

“I explained that homelessness happens for many reasons and when we can help, we help because oftentimes, the homeless feel invisible in the world,” said Laura, who noted that her son’s curiosity piqued when the family passed a food line for homeless and then again when they encountered a homeless woman in a food court. When Laura noticed the woman putting on layers of clothing before heading out into the cold weather, she handed the woman $10 and bought her a large cup of coffee.

“It made me feel better when my mom did that because [the woman] had a drink and was able to get food,” said Myles, who was heartened by his mother’s actions. Over the next couple of weeks, Myles and his parents had numerous discussions and he became very excited when his mother showed him a care kit that could easily be prepared and given to the homeless.

“He asked to make it immediately” then asked if his classmates could help, Laura related. With the approval of his teacher, Sandra Prokop, Myles explained that each kit was a gallon-sized zip lock bag filled with personal hygiene products – toothbrushes, soap, shampoo, wet wipes as well as cold weather socks and gloves.

It was Myles’ initial goal to prepare 10 care kits but the contributions made by his classmates allowed for more kits to be made.

“I could truly see his understanding of what we teach in the classroom about helping others in need,” Prokop said as she listened to him address the class. “I am so proud of Myles for taking the initiative with this project and have his classmates help him. It is truly heartwarming to see his care and concern for others through this project.”

Once the kits were prepared, Myles said his mother would deliver them to homeless in New York City and Philadelphia, two cities she often visits on business.

“As parents, we felt moved by his questions and sensitivity to homelessness and how he wanted to make a difference as a result of what he saw,” said Laura.

“This is the spark we hope to continue to ignite so that he finds ways to support his fellow humans. This small project has demonstrated that one person can create a momentum to include others to have a greater impact.

Laura extended appreciation to the staff of Our Lady of Good Counsel School, the second graders and their parents “who jumped in to help make this possible.

“We hope Myles will lead this project again next year alongside his friends,” she said.

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