9-year-old’s ‘bags of love’ help homeless get back on their feet

April 23, 2018
9-year-old’s ‘bags of love’ help homeless get back on their feet

Distribution of personal supplies is an outgrowth of Connecticut city’s tradition of generosity

A Christmas Day conversation with a homeless man on the streets of Hartford, Connecticut, got 9-year-old Tiernan Cabot thinking how he could help people in such straits help themselves.

He consulted with his family — parents Mark and Renugaa and 5-year-old brother Aakhil — and the result is Hartford Bags of Love.

Tiernan’s service gives those down on their luck such items as toothbrush and paste, mouthwash, deodorant, socks, granola bars and a water bottle.

“One of the biggest hindrances to obtaining a job by the homeless population is not having basic needs to look presentable for an interview,” reads the mission statement at www.hartfordbagsoflove.com.

Mayor Carolyn Mirek and Deputy Mayor Janice Snyder of South Windsor, Connecticut, chat with Tiernan Cabot about Hartford Bags of Love. Photo courtesy of Mark Cabot

“Our goal is to provide ‘bags of love’ full of basic essentials, sustenance, and clothes to the less fortunate. These bags that we put together will help them care for their personal hygiene in hopes they will be able to obtain a job and get their life back in order.”

The Christmas encounter came about because the Cabots, who live a few miles east in South Windsor, participate in a meal laid out every Sunday — whatever the weather — in Hartford’s historic Bushnell Park.

People bring food, as they’ve been doing faithfully for 30 years, and whoever wants to partake is welcome to do so.

“You’ll hear this drum, and the homeless people on the other side of the park will hear it and will be there,” says dad Mark Cabot.

Such generosity of spirit sparked something in Tiernan Cabot and, through him, the hundreds of people who donate money and the dozens who assemble and disburse his charity’s “bags of love.”

“We started it as a little family thing in Bushnell Park, and we put things about it on Facebook and more people started getting interested,” he told The American Bahá’í magazine. “And eventually the whole town was helping out.”

Sometimes the assembly line gears up in a large space such as the library, other times in someone’s home. Individuals keep bags in their cars to hand out to homeless people they spot. The Hartford Police Department also requested 450 bags.

What’s next? Keep doing what they’ve been doing, says Tiernan. “And hopefully, someday we can do something like tiny homes” for the homeless.

The rising fifth-grader with an interest in musical theater also talks up Hartford Bags of Love wherever he goes.

Tiernan had just come back from Green Acre Baha’i School in Eliot, Maine, when he was interviewed.

“There, we talked about my charity and how everybody can help, and we learned many different virtues that I realized we could use in our charity.”

And so it spreads. Including to Texas and Florida, where Hartford Bags of Love sent several boxes of items to help hurricane victims.

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