After learning what homelessness is on a trip to Austin when he was 3 years old, Frisco’s Jake Garrett-McCann knew he had to help. So he and his parents began collecting goods for the homeless community in Dallas-Fort Worth. Donations from family and friends turned into what is now Jake’s Heart—a nonprofit that’s supported by donors from around the world. Jake, now 8, is not only providing basic necessities for people in need but also taking a genuine interest in their stories. We talked to this inspirational kiddo and his mom, Kimber Garrett, about their mission and an upcoming fundraising event.
Where did you get the inspiration to start Jake’s Heart?
Jake Garrett-McCann: So when I was 3, I was vacationing in Austin with my parents, and a person asked us for money. A couple days later, I said we needed to help them. I felt bad for them. They didn’t have what they needed. We’re getting donations, sleeping bags, toiletries, water, and we’re taking it down to them. It makes me feel happy.
Kimber Garrett: Jake is extremely empathetic. After we came back from Austin, he kept talking about it. My wife and I were like, We gotta do research. We found out that socks, at that time, were the number one [needed] item. After we found that out, we reached out to friends and family in the community. Then it went viral, through North America, Canada—it got big. People were sending basic necessities, all sorts of things that we take for granted. We knew after about a year or so that we needed to either go all out or collapse it a little bit. And there was no way we were going to collapse it; [Jake] was so involved and wanted to help so much. [When we took more goods to downtown Dallas] they recognized him. He got out of the truck and they were all excited to see him, shake his hand and give him all these great big hugs. It made him feel so much better. We wanted to continue and nurture it. We developed this organization [and] named it Jake’s Heart because he has such a big heart. Not only does he help the homeless, but he also goes to Children’s Medical Center and brings toys to the children.
JGM: I also help in general. If someone is left out in a game, I ask if he wants to play with me.
What do you hope to accomplish overall with Jake’s Heart and in the community?
JGM: I hope for the homeless people to get transferred from the streets to a house or somewhere they can stay warm. My short-term goals are to get them many houses. My long-term goals are to have these two big buildings that hold men and women in sections, families. Then there are classes—how to cook, kids’ classes and classes for adults to do something.
KG: We’re learning and he’s learning that we can’t just provide them food and warmth and so forth. We’ve got to figure out a way to try and get them off the streets. He’s learning new vocabulary words like transitioning and transferring them from a shelter to a home where they can feel loved and get the help they need. He sees that there’s ability to build buildings that can house these individuals, educate them and get them in their own apartments [to] have a productive life.
How can the community get involved?
KG: We want to help in the North Texas community because a lot of people think up here in the suburbs people are not homeless, and in fact, there’s a very large homeless community here. We had a talk with [Frisco] Mayor Cheney about this, and we want to make sure what we collect also goes to the areas that we live in—we’ve gone over to Samaritan Inn before and dropped off some stuff. We want the community to become involved. Volunteers? You bet, to help put toiletries together. [Jake’s] got friends that come and set up an assembly line, like Lucille Ball with the chocolates. People can [also] donate through Jake’s website monetarily, or they can even text Jake. We invested in a mobile application where anybody in the world can send a text message to Jake. We take that money and, in turn, we pay for storage, food, sleeping bags and basic necessities—whatever it might mean to help individuals who need help.
What’s next for Jake’s Heart?
KG: June 3 is Jake’s Heart’s first music fest, which it plans to hold annually. We got musicians putting together a lineup. It’s going to be at Stan’s Main Street in downtown Frisco. We’re [also] looking for corporate sponsors right now to help with the larger, long-term goals Jake has.
What message do you want to get across to the greater Collin community?
JGM: No matter how young or old you are, you can make a difference in your community by just doing simple everyday things—helping someone or encouraging someone to do something that they have a hard time with.