Help the Homeless

WSVN — The arrest of a 90-year old man by Fort Lauderdale Police for feeding the homeless has a lot of people asking, “How do we help?” In today’s Parent to Parent, Lynn Martinez shows how some parents are teaching their kids to give back.

While most kids are thinking about what they are getting for the holidays, Cristina Cantero says her dad raised her to give.

Cristina Cantero: “He would collect the stuffed animals, and if we got, like, three extra ones, he would, say, give two or choose one to donate.”

Cristina even kept a piggy bank to collect change she would donate to those less fortunate.

Frank Cantero: “My wife and I would ask them to identify the right charity, make them do research and find people they believe would benefit from it.”

Now a high school senior, Cristina started Students Supporting Project UPSTART, a way for young people to get involved in giving back by collecting items for the homeless.

Cristina Cantero: “I have different high schools working on canned food drives. Those will be for November, December. We do the feminine hygiene products and toiletries all year round, so we’ll bring those in.”

If you are looking for ways to educate your kids on the homelessness problem, local shelters say there’s a few keys.

Ron Book: “I tell people, ‘Don’t put money in anybody’s bucket, cup or hat.'”

Ron Book with the Miami-Dade Homeless Trust says, have a conversation with your child and ask them how they want to help.

Ron Book: “‘If you want to do something, do you want to do it just us as a family, do you want to make it larger and make it other families or friends of ours?'”

Next, encourage them to take action.

Ron Book: “They can get a jar, a spare change jar, and simply collect change at home.”

Ron says, if your child wants to take it a step further, they can volunteer at a homeless shelter, or ask their school to host a drive.

Ron Book: “Talk about the things you can involve yourself in, your families in, the school clubs, school organizations.”

Last month, Cristina joined thousands of other students at the University of Miami to take part in Homeless Awareness Day. She plans to continue collecting items for the homeless through her organization. She says one person can make a difference, and the best part of helping others is the way it makes you feel.

Cristina Cantero: “It’s so nice to feel that you can contribute and make a difference in someone’s life or such a large number of people’s lives.”

If you want to learn more about Project Homeless Awareness, a guide for students of all ages, go to: www.miamidade.gov/homeless.

In the Plex, Lynn Martinez, 7News.