CLARKSVILLE — A local 8-year-old is taking the initiative to help out the homeless in Southern Indiana.
Clarksville resident Wyatt Blum recently started collecting sleeping bags to donate to the homeless. He partnered with Exit 0, a ministry serving those facing homelessness in Southern Indiana and Louisville, to accomplish his goal of helping those in need.
The “Wyatt’s Super Sleep” project was 100% Wyatt’s idea, said his father, Michael Blum.
Wyatt was cycling with his father on a Clarksville bike path, and one day, he noticed some items under an overpass, which captured his attention.
“I saw a bunch of garbage like McDonald’s bags and cups, and I thought people had been living there,” Wyatt said.
Wyatt then started asking his father questions about the items he had seen under the overpass.
“He wanted to know where they slept, if they were living there…he didn’t really think that was fair,” Michael said. “He thought someone should give them somewhere to live and this and that, and he thought, someone should at least give them a sleeping bag where they wouldn’t have to sleep on the concrete.”
Wyatt first offered to donate his own sleeping bag, but instead decided to buy a sleeping bag to donate. Michael told his son that for every dollar he spent to buy sleeping bags, he would donate $5.
“So then he made a video we put on Facebook and spread around, he created a registry, he wrote a business letter and went around door to door all over,” Michael said.
Wyatt also visited local retail stores to speak with managers about his project, and he received a gift card donation from Target to use for the sleeping bag collection. There is also a registry on Walmart for “Wyatt’s Super Sleep” project.
His original goal was to collect 10 sleeping bags, but once Wyatt put the video on Facebook, “bags started coming and coming and coming” to their home, Michael said.
Wyatt received donations from his family and the community, and the bags filled up the trunk of their car as they delivered them several weeks ago — he has already given out about 30 sleeping bags to Exit 0, and he is expecting more donations.
His grandmother works at Exit 0, and he has been involved with the ministry on previous occasions, including putting together snack bags for Exit 0 with his Cub Scout troop.
Michael helped connect Wyatt with the organization for the sleeping bag donations. In late September, Wyatt also rode with Exit 0 staff in the organization’s decommissioned ambulance, and he helped distribute meals, snacks, toiletries and clothes. That day, he handed out some of the sleeping bags he had collected.
“We helped a lot of people — like 50 or something,” Wyatt said. “Like on the second or third stop, we stopped and we kept handing out stuff, and every second, people kept running out of bushes.”
Michael said is proud of his son’s work to help the community.
“I think it says something that he has the initiative to do it, the work ethic to do it….,” he said. “It’s kind of a time of discovery for him, and he’s starting to understand that these kind of issues exist in the community, and I think it says something that he wants to do something about it. I think there are just a lot of opportunities for him in the process.”
Paul Stensrud, founder and director of Exit 0, said the organization has been collecting sleeping bags, coats and hoodies to distribute to homeless individuals, and he felt “blessed” to help Wyatt with his mission.
“This next generation — these are the folks we pray step up in the community to fill our shoes, and we love it when children have this ambition to go out and serve their communities,” he said.