INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- An eight and a nine-year-old, both strangers, stood on the same block this Christmas Eve with the same goal.
They were in downtown Indianapolis to flood the city with messages of love and a lot of warmth.
Both, came up with the ideas themselves.
“Four years ago when we were doing these blessing bags, I was telling my grandma, they’re cold and they don’t need a bag with stuff in it, they need a blanket,” said nine-year-old Hunter Lenk. “So we started doing that.”
Hunter’s grandmother says the first year Hunter gave out 158 blankets to people in need. They had no idea at the time how much the project would grow.
“Last year we had a trailer full,” said Hunter. “This year, we have a box truck full."
Family and friends donated for months. Employees at local businesses helped out too. So did inmates at the Miami Correctional Facility near Kokomo.
Through the PLUS program, inmates make quilts. They donated 50 to Lenk’s organization, Hunter’s Hugs.
In total, Hunter has 939 blankets to give out this year, plus pillows, coats, hats and gloves.
“It’s pretty crazy,” said Hunter. “Really crazy. It’s what’s making my day and what I’m trying to do is make their day.”
Also downtown was eight-year-old Reese Hamilton, carrying crates of blankets too.
Reese first grabbed Indy’s attention when he organized a peace walk in his east side neighborhood.
Today, he made it clear, it’s not just his own neighbors he cares about.
“Not everyone gets blankets and in the winter it’s cold, so I decided to give out blankets to the homeless because they’re cold too,” said Reese.
For hours, Hamilton handed people bags of toiletries and candy with each blanket.
Like Hunter, Reese says hearing each genuine “thanks” from the people he’s helping, makes him realize just how much good he’s doing.
“It has me really excited because I’m doing so many things for other people and I’m really glad about that because not everyone has things that they need,” said Reese.
Hunter collects blankets year-round. For more information about how to donate, click here to go to his Facebook page.
Reese also plans to continue his effort next year, along with several other community projects. Click here for more information.