Teen uses allowance to buy meals, hygiene products for homeless
Jay Garcia is not your typical 15-year-old.
Instead of spending his Saturdays playing video games or walking around the mall, he heads to the streets of Medford to help the homeless.
With the help of the mother and other volunteers, Garcia hands out 16 to 40 lunch sacks each Saturday.
"I would like to see us be able to donate quite a bit more towards it cause to be honest, I feel like I'm not doing enough for them," said Garcia. "Because sure some people chose that lifestyle, but a lot of them didn't."
Along with the meals, Garcia also hands out hygiene products. He pays for the goods with a weekly allowance he earns by doing chores.
Of the $25 he makes each week, he puts $24 towards his volunteer efforts.
"It's made my life better actually, because I'm doing something good," he said.
It's all a part of Compassion Highway Project, a non-profit that provides help to the homeless year-round. The organization also holds community feeds every Sunday.
The part Garcia plays has been named the Wagon of Hope, named after the wagon he uses to carry the sack lunches.
"He is Autistic, and he has a hard time being social, and this... he just found something he loved to do," said Melissa Mayne, founder of Compassion Highway Project. "And he's connected with a lot of people that are out here on the street."
Mayne said CHP was able to help the Garcia family when they were down on their luck last year.
Since then, Garcia and his mom have spent countless hours paying it forward.
"They've been through so much," she said. "It's just amazing they're willing to give back with the little resources they have," she said.
Mayne believes Garcia has found a place of belonging in helping the homeless-- one she hopes other autistic kids... Can find too.
"We're hoping to rally behind them and really get another program going for kids that maybe are autistic that want to join Jay," she said. "Maybe they'll find joy in passing out lunches too."
If you would like to help Jay's efforts, or volunteer with him, visit the Compassion Highway Project website.