Boys devote snow days to helping homeless

Kent County

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Most kids spent their unexpected week off from school sleeping in, playing a lot of video games and ultimately complaining about being bored. But for one 7-year-old boy and his mom, it was a time to help those left out in the cold.

On Tuesday night, teacher Stephanie Veldhouse was putting her three boys — 3-year-old Harris, 5-year-old Rem and 7-year-old Conrad — to bed when she and Conrad started talking about the plight of the homeless.

“Mom said, ‘What do you think we could do for them?’ And I said, ‘Pray for them?’ and Mom said, ‘What else can we do?’” Conrad, a student at Grandville Christian School, recalled.

They decided to take action. Veldhouse started reaching out to Conrad’s teachers and classmates and to people at her and her husband’s workplaces.

In the space of a couple days, donations of $10 and $20 accumulated into more than $1,800.

“There have been multiple times that we have found ourselves in tears. It’s very powerful,” Veldhouse said.

Conrad himself gave the $20 he got for his birthday and for mowing lawn. His little brother also dipped into his piggy bank.

“I hope that they have all their needs and that they stay warm during this very cold winter,” Conrad said of the homeless.

Their mother said they decided that helping Mel Trotter Ministries in Grand Rapids was a good choice. It’s a Christian-based organization that would help people right here in West Michigan. They contacted the organization about how it could best use the $1,800.

“They were able to help us by telling us where their greatest need was,” Veldhouse said.

On Thursday, it was off to the Grandville Meijer. The boys and their mom cleaned the store out of winter gear, filling carts with 55 pairs of boots, 80 pair of socks, and 28 sets of gloves, hats and scarfs.

“We raised enough money to get a lot of boots, mittens, hats and gloves to all the people that need them,” Conrad marveled.

Then they headed to Mel Trotter in the Heartside neighborhood to drop things off. Staff and volunteers lined up to move box after box out of their minivan.

“To have a young person like that see the need and respond is a great lesson to all of us that when we see something, we need to do something and that’s how change occurs,” Frank Grant, donations manager for Mel Trotter, said.

“What one little question can do, and so it’s just been really awesome,” Veldhouse summed up.

The need continues at Mel Trotter and the other agencies that help the homeless. You can find Mel Trotter, Degage Ministries, Guiding Light, Heartside Ministry, Kalamazoo Gospel Mission, The Haven of Rest in Battle Creek, Holland Rescue Mission or Muskegon Rescue Mission online to find out about volunteering or donating.

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