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William Byrne third-grader’s annual coat drive tallies nearly 190 coats and other warm gear for homeless 

  • Building Community

It all started in 2019, while driving in the car with his mom. Outside his window, Cameron noticed a homeless person, which prompted a lengthy discussion about homelessness and what it would be like to be in that situation. That conversation sparked a desire in Cameron to help those in need. With his mom’s help, he made a video and a sign, and used social media to share his mission.

Cameron decided he would start by collecting coats. That first year, he collected 75 coats. The next year, in 2020, he held his second drive and collected 235 coats, as well as hats, gloves, snow pants, boots, sleeping bags, blankets, hygiene supplies, snacks and more. 

This year’s coat drive brought in 187 coats, 238 hats, 81 gloves and mittens, 69 scarves, 25 snow pants, 25 long johns and leggings, 570 hand and toe warmers, 134 pieces of warm clothing, 17 blankets and many pairs of boots. These items were donated to various organizations, including Sanctuary Supply Depot, Homeward Bound, Neighborhood House and Southside Harm Reduction. Cameron and his mom also directly distributed items to encampments in the Minneapolis community. 

Cameron’s mom says that he has a very compassionate and humanitarian nature. Combined with his initiative to take action, he sees the need to help if he can.

“We say, ‘if can, then must,’” said Alex Mars, Cameron’s mom. “I think the fact that I am open and honest with Cameron about the struggles that people face has empowered him. He is aware and doesn't look away when there is someone struggling.”

In a very practical way, Cameron has turned his passion for helping people into purpose, exemplifying what it means to embrace the humanity of all and to be Community Strong. 


  • William Byrne
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