It is estimated that more than half a million people in the United States are experiencing homelessness.
While riding along with her mom in their Savannah, Ga. neighborhood, five-year-old Bethany Moultry witnessed people in her community without a place to call home.
“We were running errands when we pulled up to a stop sign and Bethany saw a man holding a sign asking for help,” said Bethany’s mom, Colleen Moultry. “She cried and asked me if she could break open her piggy bank and give him all of her money.”
That encounter three years ago triggered something in little Bethany that inspired her to move from empathy to action. As a result, she founded Bethany’s Happy Bags for the Homeless.
The “happy bags” are gallon-sized bags chock-full of necessities like personal hygiene items, food, water or juice, utensils and homemade first aid kits. Some may also include items such as hand warmers, gloves, hats, emergency blankets, sun screen, bug repellent and more, but all are packed with hope and a hand-written note of encouragement.
“I want every person experiencing homelessness to know that I see you and I care,” said Bethany, now 8 years old.
Since launching, Bethany’s Happy Bags for the Homeless has assembled and distributed more than 4,700 bags!
“From what we have been told by our neighbors experiencing homelessness as well as from our partner agencies, her Happy Bags have literally saved lives,” Colleen said.
The bags are distributed in Savannah through various channels. Partners like the Savannah Police Dept, Chatham-Savannah Authority for the Homeless as well as several churches and shelters distribute the bags to some of the most vulnerable in the city.
The work is expanding as the team has begun making bags to distribute in the Hudson Valley area of New York where some of Bethany’s extended family lives.
In the future, Bethany plans to continue her mission to not only assist her neighbors who are experiencing homelessness, but her main goal to END homelessness. She would like to create an organization that assists with safe, long-term housing, offers mental health services and job training.
With her passion, empathy and dedication, Bethany is definitely on the path to making this a reality.
Learn more about Bethany’s Happy Bags for the Homeless at www.bethanyshappybags.com.
Connect with Bethany and her team via social media: