Tyler Stallings is an eight-year-old kidpreneur and philanthropist on a mission to alter the scruffy living conditions of America’s veterans.
Stallings quest to better the disturbing living conditions of the country’s veterans began when he was four.
His mother Andrea Blackstone exposed him to videos and documentaries about veterans when he was four. Why? She wanted to teach him the importance of veterans who were many in their family.
One of those videos from YouTube showing veterans in sordid conditions and scrambling for sustenance and shelter etched on the young mind of Stallings a disturbing image.
Stallings watched veterans sprawling for survival, homeless and begging for alms on the street of the United States.
At the tender age of four, Stallings was so disturbed by the content of the documentary, he immediately wanted to do something to help to the extent of asking his mom if he could build houses for them.
“He saw videos of veterans holding signs to no one responding to their cry for help and he thought this isn’t right. He didn’t like it,” Blackstone told ‘GMA’. “He asked me, ‘If they’re heroes why should they be on the street?'”
Stallings begged his mother to take them to Home Depot so they could buy wood and nails and build the veterans houses – that Blackstone told him wasn’t possible because they didn’t have the funds.
To appease her child’s desire to help the veterans, Blackstone got Stallings in touch with Maryland’s Gov. Larry Hogan and with his help, the four-year-old was given a kid’s grant of $100 through Start A Snowball.
With the grant and a GoFundMe link Blackstone shared on Facebook, Tyler decided that once a year on Veteran’s Day, he would gather items like clothes and hygiene products to give homeless veterans care packages, GMA reports.
“Doing something special for veterans began after I started asking my mom why some veterans are homeless,” Tyler said on his GoFundMe page. “After talking to my mom, I really wanted to help build homes for veterans but together we decided on a more realistic goal. We came up with an idea to make hygiene and grooming kits with thank you cards to give to veterans in need. I call them Hero Bags!”
Stallings raised additional money to make gift baskets as Easter gifts. Hundreds of hygiene and grooming products were donated to the Armed Forces Retirement Home, located in the District of Columbia, and to a transitional home for homeless male veterans in Anne Arundel County called Patriot House.
“It was supposed to be a one-time thing, but it turned into an all the time event,” Blackstone said.
Stallings began to work with the Maryland Center for Veteran Education and Training (MCVET) as the designated “superhero” of their shelter.
As their “superhero” Stallings’ goal is to raise awareness of the veteran’s sacrifices to others and bring “hero bags” for veterans who are homeless or need basic supplies.
Over the past four years, Tyler has raised over $50,000 for homeless veterans. Also, he has donated close to 3,000 hero bags.
“I want to help shelters and I also want to help other people to get back on their feet with it,” Stallings said.
Gov. Larry Hogan and Michael Pantelides, the former mayor of Annapolis, Maryland, have recognized Stallings with citations for helping veterans and youth.
He is also a 2016 President Barack Obama Service Award recipient. Congressman André Carson later acknowledged him by sending Congressional Recognition.
Stallings became a GoFundMe Kid Hero in December of 2018, and an Orioles Birdland Community Hero in April of 2019, because of his work with the homeless in Baltimore and other parts of Maryland.
In October of 2019, the VFW Auxillary presented a “Spirit of America” citation to him for exhibiting the true American spirit.