State honors 11-year-old for passing out 1,600 blankets to homeless

PAW PAW, Mich. — When State Representative Beth Griffin found out a few weeks ago that an 11-year-old was passing out hundreds of blankets to the homeless in Kalamazoo, she said she knew he had to be recognized for it. Friday morning she made it happen.

“For all of his endeavors, Samuel VerHage is publicly receiving the recognition he so greatly deserves,” said Rep. Griffin reading a plaque. “In special tribute therefore, this document is signed and dedicated to Samuel VerHage for his commitment to Southwest Michigan and to all those in need.”

Friends and family clapped as Rep. Griffin passed the framed State Proclamation to VerHage. He stood between her and Deb Shields, a director from Senator Schuitmaker’s office, as the small crowd took pictures.

“It’s really really cool,” said VerHage during an interview after the ceremony.

The day following Thanksgiving, VerHage passed out more than 1,600 blankets to the homeless men and women at Matin Luther King Jr. park in downtown Kalamazoo. His goal was to collect only 800. Exceeding it was something he never expected.

“This is the season of giving and Sam has it down,” said Rep. Griffin during an interview. “Just the fact that he’s young and has done so much already makes me so excited to see what else is going to do in the future.”

VerHage said he plans to collect even more blankets next year. He doesn’t do it for the recognition he said. His only goal is to keep the homeless warm during the winter months. He’s hoping other kids will pay it forward and do the same.

“Even if you’re my age or younger you can still help by collecting something and then handing them out to the homeless,” said VerHage.

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