By Morgan Brizee
In two years, Autumn Le donated more than 250 sleeping bags to the homeless in Livermore. That values at more than $8,000. This Christmas, she also gave socks, underwear and t-shirts as gifts.
Autumn is in elementary school.
“She has absolutely made a significant impact,” said Donna McKenzie, head of operations staff for the Livermore Homeless Refuge.
Autumn, 10, a fifth grader at Croce Elementary school in Livermore, is now in year three of her charity work and it is now a community collaboration. She started a Gofundme page — go to GoFundMe.com and search “Autumn in Winter” — to raise money for more sleeping bags and other items for the homeless.
The goal is $2,000. Autumn is almost there, at $1,315.
Autumn’s family is able to donate more often in the winter because they get more donations around the holiday season. The largest donation they have received was from John Stutter, Autumn’s former principal’s husband, who gave her $500 to use toward buying items for the homeless.
Fewer pitch in during summer, leaving the burden mostly on Autumn’s family funds. But Autumn is committed. When asked what her dream is, she said, “To build a place for the homeless to sleep in.”
It all began in 2014 when then-10-year-old was on her way home from a family trip. She saw a man on the sidewalk not wearing any kind of jacket. Autumn began to think that he must be cold, she would later explain, since even she was wearing a heavy jacket and was cold. Later, she heard on the news a homeless man died from being out in the cold.
The idea hit her: she would collect and donate sleeping bags to the homeless. They always kept her warm when she went camping. Surely it would help those living on the streets.
So with their own family funds, Autumn has been donating to the Livermore Homeless Refuge.
“The first year Autumn started, she was able to get enough donations to buy about 113 sleeping bags for the homeless,” said Autumn’s mother, Jasmine. “The second year she was able to donate about 156 sleeping bags.”
During the second year, the Livermore Homeless Refuge said that they were in need of everyday products such as paper towels and toilet paper. Once a week, they open up facilities for the homeless to take showers, so they detergent to wash the towels, clothing, fresheners, and air fresheners were all items the center needed. So Autumn brought that, too.
On Christmas Eve, the Livermore Homeless Refugee raised enough money to put people in a Motel 6 for the night. One of the places they normally use wasn’t available, and that turned out to be a special treat for the homeless. On top of that, Autumn brought gifts: socks, new underwear and t-shirts.
“A lot of them said they couldn’t remember when the last time they slept in a real bed, or took a long warm bath or shower,” Autumn’s mom said. “It was really humbling for us and they were all really thankful.”