When he was just four years old, Tyler’s mother, Andrea Blackstone, began teaching him about Veterans. Tyler came to understand that military service members were true American heroes. While watching videos on YouTube, they came upon one focused on homeless Veterans. Tyler was upset to see these heroes living on the streets. He knew he wanted to do something. Together with his mother, Tyler contacted Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, who provided him with a $100 kid’s grant through Start a Snowball. Tyler and his mom also started a GoFundMe on Facebook. Tyler decided to use the funds once a year on Veteran’s Day to create care packages with hygiene products and clothes to give to homeless Veterans. It quickly became clear that once a year was not going to be enough.
The Maryland Center for Veteran Education and Training (MCVET) was more than happy to have Tyler work with them as their designated “superhero”. In this role, Tyler brings “hero bags” full of basic supplies for homeless Veterans.
Stallings explained the types of items he puts in his hero bags. “Gift cards, sanitizer, socks, clothes, anything that they need. We start off with giving them supplies, and then we give them resources. MCVET and the VA gives us things to carry around and when we see a Veteran on the street, we’ll give him or her some cards. I got to say a lot of times they open the bag up as soon as we leave, as soon as we get in the car. You can tell they need it a lot.”
With five years of giving back under his belt, Tyler has raised over $70,000 for homeless Veterans. He believes every donation makes a big impact.
“One of my mottos is ‘A dollar makes an item’ because we do some of the shopping at the dollar tree. So just one dollar can help to get a veteran a stick of deodorant or a box of cereal,” said Stallings who encourages others to get involved also. “You don’t need a big pile of money or you don’t have to be rich or have a fortune. Don’t give up ever. If you want to succeed you have to keep on going.”
NFM Lending donated $2,500 to Kid Time Enterprises on behalf of Tyler, which was immediately used to purchase much needed supplies for homeless Veterans. NFM looks forward to the opportunity to continue to honor military and Veterans through the NFM Salute initiative.
NFM Salute is an initiative in which one military member or Veteran is chosen each month to be honored as the “Salute of the Month.” Salutes are chosen from nominations on the NFM Salute website, www.nfmsalute.com. The “Salute of the Month” will be featured on the website with a biography and information about his or her service, and NFM Lending will donate to a military or Veteran non-profit in the Salute’s name.