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Christmas comes early for Toowoomba’s homeless thanks to little boy with a big heart

Little helper: Jaylan Knapp with the 48 bags of personal-care items, which he has now given to his local homeless community.

IT’s often said that charity begins at home.

For Jaylan Knapp, it is those without homes who need his charity the most.

The 10-year-old Toowoomba student spent the past two months gathering and packing 48 bags of personal-care items, which he has now given to his local homeless community.

When asked why this was important to him, Jaylan replied: “because they’re poor and they don’t have any money”.

The simplicity of Jaylan’s answer could be seen as a pure reflection of the Gospel and what the Lord, in very plain terms, asks of us.

‘‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.” (Matthew 25:40)

The latest census figure shows that the number of Australians who are homeless has grown to more than 116,000.

Almost 20,000 of those people live in Queensland.

In a society that is becoming increasingly neglectful of its most vulnerable members, Jaylan has proven that all we need is love in our hearts and a splash of innovation.

“Instead of asking for money, Jaylan used a Facebook page called The Unconsumer Site to swap his toys and games for personal items like shampoo, conditioner, soap and toiletries,” Jaylan’s mother Kelly said.

Also included in the packs were socks, beanies and bottles of water.

“Sometimes Jaylan would swap things we didn’t need, like a jacket, for items he thought would be more popular, like a fishing rod; then he would put that item back on the page to get what he really needed,” Kelly said.

She said in spite of a few negative comments, people were happy to help Jaylan out.

“We would get the occasional negative comment,” she said.

“One gentleman accused Jaylan of being a scammer.

“We replied by inviting him to come over and help us fill up a few bags.

“Like everything, you get the good with the bad.”

The 48 bags were given to the Toowoomba branch of Rosies – Friends on the Street, before arriving in the hands of the needy.

“His generosity, for someone so young, is absolutely amazing,” Rosies’ Toowoomba co-ordinator Fay Stein said.

She referred to Jaylan as “an exceptional, inspirational young man”.

Mrs Stein praised the time and effort Jaylan put into the project, which involved many hours working alone in the family shed on weekends and after school.

“A lot of thought went into this,” she said.

“The personal-care items he collected are things that can really restore a person’s dignity.

“If you have a hot shower you feel like a different person.”

Rosies operates four outreaches a week in Toowoomba, servicing the needs of more than 150 people.

“We have a purpose-built building at Clewley Park that the council built several years ago,” Mrs Stein said.

“It has toilets, showers, a washing machine and dryer, and a kitchenette.

“They can have a shower, wash their clothes, have a meal and share some friendship with Rosies.”
Jaylan’s philanthropy is sure to create some new friendships in his local community.
“To have someone so young … it shows them that people care,” Mrs Stein said.

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