Unlike many children her age, for her ninth birthday Charles County native Lily Mellott wanted to do something for the homeless. She gathered the largest individual walk donation ever for the 17th annual Lifestyles of Maryland Inc.’s Walk to End Homelessness last month, according to Sandy Washington, executive director of Lifestyles.
With the help of her mother, Cindy Bouet, Mellott developed a video for YouTube and a GoFundMe page that garnered $2,100 along with $25 in cash donations.
Bouet, a web developer who works at the College of Southern Maryland in the marketing department, supplied the camera work and social media expertise for the video and GoFundMe request. Support for that request substantially exceeded Mellott’s original goal of raising $500 as a birthday gift for the homeless.
Bouet pointed out that she handles all social media access for her daughter and that Mellott isn’t allowed on social media sites.
Washington said Mellott “has come with her family on several occasions previously to provide dinner for 30 to 40 people who were homeless.”
“She never just stood back. She engaged with the families, especially the children. She has donated from her own resources, gifts and clothes,” Washington said.
Mellott, whose middle name is Love, said she wants to help the homeless “because I feel sad for them. I just want homeless people to have a home.”
Bouet said her daughter has always been compassionate about those in need. “When I take her in to the city, I have to distract her because, of course, we see homeless people, and she cries. It breaks her heart,” Bouet said.
“I just want to take everybody back home,” Mellott chimed in.
As for when she grows up, Mellott said that she would help the homeless, “I would give them lots of money … from making my movie.”
Behind her, grandmother Darlene Breck whispered, “Education … don’t forget about education, honey.”
“I plan to go to a movie college,” Mellott said. She has multiple plans to be a writer, director and actor. “I don’t know which one I want to be yet.”
“What, I really want to do is write stories,” she said. She then proceeded to spell out a lengthy, detailed story about a woman in her twenties who, while walking her dog, meets a homeless person who needs food and a shower. The story ended with, “I let them take a shower and let them have everything they needed and we became best friends.”
The sense of compassion and civic duty runs deep in Mellott’s family as both her mother and grandmother volunteer for Safe Nights events and for homeless programs conducted by Lifestyles.
Mellott’s father and stepfather are active duty military, according to Bouet. Her father, who lives in North Carolina, is a member of the U.S. Army and her stepfather is in the U.S. Air Force.
Mellott has a support group, called “Lily’s Loves,” for her mission to help the homeless of Charles County.
Helping her are classmates from T.C. Martin Elementary School, where she is a third-grader who is on the honor roll, according to Bouet, as well as from members of her soccer team. Breck pointed out that a number of Mellott’s cousins are also in the group.
Many of the 16-member group of children walked with Mellott during the Walk to End Homelessness and volunteer their time when Mellott and her family help at charitable events.
On the day before Thanksgiving, Mellott and her family helped prepare food for the community Thanksgiving dinner at Middleton Hall in Waldorf. Mellott sorted peppers for the meal, this time crying because “I was working next to people cutting onions,” she said.
Washington said the meal, which was served to 1,342 local residents on Thanksgiving Day, was part of the End Hunger in Charles County program supported by Lifestyles, the Charles County’s Government, the sheriff’s office and Department of Social Services along with Israel Total Life Ministries and True Gospel Ministries.
Chefs and personnel from Middleton Hall, Galazio’s and Luciano’s Restaurant, Smokers’s Delight, Akalign Vegan and Charles Street Bakery were among the over 200 volunteers who prepared the meal, Washington said.
Breck said she also volunteers, along with her daughter and granddaughter Lily, for Safe Nights, a program in Charles County that provides shelter and food for the homeless between October and April. Local churches rotate facility support for the homeless with a place for cots and hot meals, she said.