At the age of 9, Jaylen Daughtery has a passion for giving.
The fourth-grader doesn't hesitate to give out food, money or any other items to friends or family members in need. But this year, Jaylen decided to expand his passion by helping a new group of people— the homeless.
In January and February, Jaylen collected 108 winter hats for the Neighborhood Service Organization in Detroit. Jaylen said he accomplished this by asking friends and family to donate the gently used hats.
NSO is a nonprofit service organization that focuses on community development programs. It provides housing, emergency care and mental health services for the homeless.
"If (homeless people) didn't have hats, they would have been cold in the winter," said Jaylen, who lives in Oak Park with his family.
Jaylen's father, Waymon Daughtery, said he decided to help his son collect hats after Jaylen asked him to pull over in Detroit in December so he could give his own hat to a homeless man. Waymon said he had to explain to Jaylen the risks of approaching strangers.
"When we got home, he was a little disturbed we didn't stop," Waymon said. "He's always upset when we don't give out money (or other items) to the homeless."
But Jaylen's small idea led to an even larger movement. On Feb. 18, Jaylen visited the NSO and individually passed out hats to the homeless people at the facility.
Jaylen said the experience was rewarding.
"I was excited because if that was me, I would be happy, too," Jaylen said.
As a father, Waymon said it was inspiring to see his son excited about helping others at such a young age.
"It made me feel good to actually see him accomplishing his goal and making others happy," Waymon said.
Jaylen has received recognition from the NSO for his efforts. On Feb. 28, the NSO presented him with a Certificate of Appreciation for taking action on his idea.
NSO President Sheilah Clay said Jaylen is one of the youngest donors for her organization. She said Jaylen's effort shines light on the positive things young people are doing in the community.
"A lot of people think about it and they don’t do anything," Clay said. "Jaylen moved it, he thought beyond himself and wanted to do something."
Essentially, Jaylen met a great need at NSO. Clay said dozens of homeless people come to her facility after being out in the cold, living in abandoned buildings.
"If you can cover the top of someone’s head you might be able to save a life," Clay said.
Jaylen's hat collection doesn't stop here. He said he plans to continue collecting hats to donate next winter.
How You Can Help
If you'd like to donate hats to Jaylen's collection, email his father at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 248-980-7955. For more information or to get involved with NSO visit www.nso-mi.org/ or call 313-961-4890.