Nicholl Summers and her three kids love to travel from their westside home to the Gorge for hikes, but Summers says her kids often went from giddy to solemn when they noticed the juxtaposition of million-dollar homes next to tent encampments of the homeless. When a virtual campout with the Hike It Baby group led to a discussion of using personal strengths to help others, her kids remembered those unhoused people in tents and talked about what they could do. With Summers’ encouragement, they started the Summers Family Community Project with the goal of helping homeless neighbors. “Within 24 hours, they already had donations of toiletries and snacks,” says Summers. 

Her kids assemble care-package kits of a canvas bag, art supplies to decorate the bag and a few toiletries. Other families then take the kit, decorate the bag and fill it with necessities such as period products, sunscreen or hand sanitizer — and also a personal touch like a keychain, friendship bracelet or a child’s drawing.  

So far, the Summers family has worked with Open Door HousingWorks to get filled bags and distribute supplies to people who need them. (Check out the family’s Amazon wish list!) The family also keeps bags in the car to give when they are out and about. Summers says she hopes to make the Summers Family Community Project a 501(c)(3).

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“This project was their idea, and we are fully supporting them,” says Summers of her kids, ages 7, 4 and 1. “I obviously handle a lot of the logistics because of their ages, but the ideas and the outpouring of love for our neighbors came directly from their hearts. My 4-year-old even took to using Canva to create images for the project. My 7-year-old is on a personal mission to give a care package to every human in need, and wants to make additional care packages for dogs. They have new ideas every day, and the limit of their creativity is only exceeded by the love in their hearts.” 

To find out how your family can join in, visit: facebook.com/groups/summersfamilycommunityproject.

Denise Castañon
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