HOWELL – A 16-year-old resident of Howell wants to gift what he is calling COVID-19 relief bags to adults who have special needs who have had their routines upended by the pandemic.
Collin Smith, a junior at Howell High School, has started a gofundme seeking donations he will use to put together relief bags filled with gift cards, fun activities and sensory stimulating toys to keep special needs adults who receive a bag occupied and entertained.
Collin was starting to get back to his regular routine when he realized not everyone could do so.
“I wanted to do this because I saw my brother, Brandon, who has autism. My brother is 21 and he went to Howell High School … in that program you can stay until you are 21 and that is when you graduate.
“After that it is up to the (young adult’s) parents to decided what kind of program they want to put (their child) in. Since he was young, Brandon has always had some routine in his life, whether it was preschool, or school every day, or piano lessons, he plays the piano,” Collin said.
Collin said that during the height of the pandemic, he realized Brandon could not quite understand why he could not go to his regular programs.
“I just wanted to do something to help (individuals who have special needs), something that would help their day,” the young man said.
He plans to pack the relief bags and deliver them to individuals who sign up via the Google form.
“We want to pack the bags with gift cards and also with toys and activities that will keep them entertained and keep their mind off how they are staying at home,” Collin said.
Collin’s mom, Amy Smith, said they are hoping to fill each relief bag with a Wawa gift card, a Dairy Queen gift card, an Amazon gift card and a Target gift card.
“And we are going to do some sensory things like bubbles, kinetic fans, low fat desert books, giving them things to do. We would also (like to include) word search puzzles and brain (puzzle) books,” Smith said.
Smith said programs for adults who have special needs have been closed because of the pandemic. She said she is trying to get the word out about what Collin is doing for the community.
“These kids have been out of school since March with nothing (and) the adults are totally lost. It is like the lost population … because adults with special needs have just been forgotten; it’s crazy,” Smith said.
Collin said he has raised more than $5,000 for his charitable effort thus far.
“We are going to make as many bags as we get signups,” he said. “We have surpassed our goal by so much, which is amazing, but it is almost to a point where we need more people to sign up.
“We have a lot of money for (relief bags) and a lot of that is going to be donated, which is great, but I would much rather give it to a family or a child who needs it because that is the whole point of this effort,” Collin said.