NEW ORLEANS — When Ayonia Williams asked her son what he wanted to do for his birthday this year, she got an unexpected response.
“I ain’t going to lie, I cried,” said Williams.
Her son, Khalil Jones put it simply.
“Go feed the homeless,” said Jones.
That was about a week and a half ago when Khalil was still six. Mom says she wasn’t exactly shocked to hear him say it.
“I could be driving anywhere, he could see somebody standing on the corner and he’d be like, ‘Oh, let’s give them this or let’s give them that,’” said Williams.
So, she made a post. Then she made a flyer. Her son’s birthday wish resonated with people.
“I have donations, toiletries, clothes, and food,” said Williams. “We went and got blankets, like over 50 blankets.”
Even at his age, Khalil knew making sure those blankets and food made it to people in need wasn’t going to be easy.
“I can’t just do everything by myself. I need help,” said Khalil.
Wednesday, on Khalil’s seventh birthday, family members did some cooking at home, then met in downtown New Orleans under the Pontchartrain Expressway.
“It don’t take much to help somebody and doing it genuinely,” said Williams.
All the donations and home-cooked meals were served up to anyone, no questions asked. There were plenty of smiles though and a warm hello from a boy who gives beyond his years.
“It’ s a great thing to feed the homeless,” said Khalil. “Make them feel great.”
According to the New Orleans Health Department in 2020, there were just more than 1,300 people considered homeless in Orleans and Jefferson Parishes. That’s the most recent year of complete data.
“We don’t know what they’re going through,” said Williams.
Khalil and his mom may not know any of them, but that doesn’t matter. The impact Williams talked to her son about does.
“I explained to him, I’m like, ‘Son, what you’re doing is going to touch so many people. There are people who are going through things deeper than what we can see or what we can understand,’” said Williams.
What they can understand is that even in times of celebration, caring for others, is better than any present.