Three years ago, a young Sunderland boy and his family launched an initiative to help those living on the streets stay warm through the bitter cold winter months.
Easton McCready, 12, and his family are continuing their mission this year.
“Just doing whatever I can to help is something compared to nothing.”
A trip to Cornerstone in Oshawa, a homeless shelter and outreach organization, has become a holiday tradition for Easton.
When he and his family show up, they come bearing gifts: sleeping bags for Durham’s homeless population.
“I just think how hard it is to be in that position and it’s just really sad,” Easton said.
After seeing someone struggling on the streets, Easton knew he had to do something, so he started Warm the Streets of Durham three years ago.
“Our son has one of the biggest hearts I know,” said Sherrilyn McCready, Easton’s mom.
His desire to help rubbed off on his entire family and it’s now a McCready initiative.
“Even though you’re little, even though you’re small, you can still make a difference in the world and kids have the best ideas and the best intentions,” said Sherrilyn McCready.
“I just like helping other people,” said Lacey McCready, Easton’s sister.
Because of the pandemic, the McCreadys made some adjustments to their collection process. Instead of gathering physical donations, they started a GoFundMe campaign.
“We raised $1,500 and then I raised it to $2,000 and we got that,” said Easton.
That allowed them to purchase 62 sleeping bags.
“It still feels very nice that people work for that money and they’re going to give us money to help other people,” said Easton.
Cornerstone has been operating at reduced capacity since the pandemic started. Executive director Robert Brglez says at last count there were over 200 unsheltered individuals living on Durham streets and that number is likely much higher now.
“We do reach out to those who don’t want to use our shelter system for a variety of reasons — they don’t want to use the shelter system, they are unsheltered on the street. They access our services and we’ve definitely have seen an increase in that.”
The McCreadys dropped off half of their donations this week and they’ll be back at Cornerstone next month to deliver the remaining sleeping bags, giving the gift of warmth and generosity to those in need.