GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.-- Instead of spending time around their Christmas trees on Tuesday morning, two young girls braved the cold with their families to serve a hot meal and hand out hygiene bags to people in need.
Kealiyana, 10, and her friend Mariah, 11, say they were inspired by Kealiyana's father, Brennon Marshall, who passed away in March. Marshall's family says he had a big heart and always did what he could to help others.
“When he was young, he used to like, talk to strangers and treat them like his friends and always like, invite strangers to the house, like as a kid," Brennon's brother, Quentin Blackwell says. “He was a very giving person, so we’re just trying to give in honor of him.”
Kealiyana tells FOX 17 her dad taught her to always be kind and give back to the community. She says she and Mariah got the idea to serve the homeless a few months ago while the girls were at a Pizza Hut. They saw a homeless person walk by and thought of Brennon.
“I feel bad for them because they don’t have a home or not a lot of food or clothes," Kealiyana says. “It just gave us an idea to do this on Christmas.”
The girls started a GoFundMe page in November and raised nearly $800 for the cause.
By 3 p.m. on Tuesday, they had served over 100 people a hot meal and distributed "blessing kits" filled with hygiene products.
One woman who benefitted from the event says it means a lot to her, especially on Christmas.
"There’s some days that I don’t even eat," Debra Eichmann says.
The girls say they're already looking forward to doing it again next year.
“Me and Keali are very fortunate for the stuff we have and very grateful and I feel like other people deserve to get a feeling of getting good stuff on Christmas," Mariah says.
Their goal next year is to raise enough money to buy 100 pairs of snow pants to give away.