Hayden 12-year-old on a mission to make a difference

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Through the eyes of a 12-year-old, it’s just not OK for people in the Northwest to be homeless and hungry.

Gabi Martin is especially saddened when she sees a homeless person with a canine companion that’s also experiencing an empty stomach and heavy heart.

She’s decided to do something about it.

"They don't have anything," she said, sitting on the couch in the living room of her Hayden home.

They don't have anything — until they meet Gabi, that is.

This kind-hearted young lady has been making care packages for the homeless since her birthday in April. She buys items like cocoa packets, individual tissue packs, toothbrushes, instant noodle cups, soaps, protein-packed peanut butter, pens and notepads and stuffs them into zip-top storage bags to give away when she sees people in need.

“Sometimes we bring dog treats, if they have a dog,” Gabi said.

She spent all of her birthday money — and a little bit of Mom's — to launch what she’s calling “Project Help the Homeless.” She wants to make more of these bags and help as many people as she can.

"There was one man, and it was priceless — we took some of the bags to Spokane and we were getting off of the Lincoln exit, and he was at the corner, and he was really dirty and he had no teeth, and you could tell he was really struggling," said Gabi’s mother, Kim. "We were sitting at the red light, Gabi holds the bag out, and he gets the biggest grin on his face, ear to ear. He walks up to get the bag and he was just overjoyed that he got this goodie bag."

Kim, who works as a nurse, is incredibly proud of her daughter because she knows it's not just snacks and toiletries her sweet daughter is giving these people.

It's also hope.

"It makes me feel like I’m doing something right, instilling good habits and good patterns of thinking that she would think of others, to spend her money and go out and help people who need it," Kim said.

Gabi, an incoming Christian Center School seventh-grader, hopes her project goes viral. She and her mom would love to see a "help the homeless" event, where people come together to show members of the homeless community that others care about them.

"Businesses or other health facilities could make a day in the park, give out these kinds of bags, provide portable showers so they could take a shower and feel good, and maybe another business could have a tent and give out meals," Kim said. "Some people have a bad attitude about the homeless. They’re like, ‘Oh, they’re just lazy,' but sometimes they’ve just lost their way and they can’t get back on their feet."

Gabi and Kim have contacted Nestle and Colgate to see how they can procure donations. Nestle might provide mini-water bottles for the cause, Kim said, but Colgate has expressed that it gives only to "big businesses or organizations."

But they're not discouraged. Gabi has plans to keep this going because all she wants is to help people — and dogs — in need.

Email projecthelpthehomeless19@yahoo.com to get involved or learn how to help Gabi's cause.

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