MARYLAND (CNN) — Tyler Stallings was 4 years old when he first learned that some veterans are homeless.
Veterans are part of the Maryland boy’s extended family and he always thought of them as heroes. Homeless veterans didn’t make sense to him.
He wanted to do something to help them right away, so he asked his mom if he could build houses for them. At such a young age, he wasn’t in the best position to start building houses.
He still wanted to help, so Tyler started doing something a little more realistic. He began making what he calls “hero bags.”
“Doing something special for veterans began after I started asking my mom why some veterans are homeless,” Tyler said on his GoFundMe page. “After talking to my mom, I really wanted to help build homes for veterans but together we decided on a more realistic goal. We came up with an idea to make hygiene and grooming kits with thank you cards to give to veterans in need. I call them Hero Bags!”
During winter, a hero bag could be packed with a hat, gloves, blanket, lip balm, a sweater, toothbrushes and toothpaste, soap and more.
In the four years Tyler has been helping veterans, he has donated close to 3,000 hero bags, his mother Andrea Blackstone told CNN on Sunday. He has helped many veterans and has raised more than $50,000 over the past four years.
“He buys a lot of merchandise from donations,” Blackstone said. “We go now all the time.”
Tyler has given bags and other items to many organizations that help homeless veterans. He has also given to individuals directly as well.
“Anything people can do to help them with items on their wish lists, that’s where people like Tyler come in,” Blackstone said. “For Tyler, being a part of that community as a superhero has been about raising awareness.”