11-year-old boy dedicated to derecho clean-up efforts

Published: Aug. 16, 2020 at 6:58 PM CDT
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After riding out Monday’s derecho in their basement, one Cedar Rapids mom said her 11-year-old son wasted no time wanting to get out to help clean-up.

Sunday marked nearly a week since 11-year-old Christopher and his mom, Starlet Smith started walking up and down their Cedar Rapids street daily, collecting whatever debris they could.

“It was a disaster and my son was very grieved, he’s got a very caring heart and that is one thing that makes him unique and immediately he wanted to do something,” Smith said.

Smith said it was Christopher who wanted to get out the most.

“He’s been up and down the neighborhood helping neighbors all the way up and down the streets,” she said.

Cleaning up storm damage isn’t easy work, especially for an 11-year-old. So, Christopher used whatever he could to get to work, like using a broken shopping cart for the heavy lifting, blown in from the storm.

On Sunday however, Christopher got to walk out of Home Depot with something special - a new wheelbarrow, donated by someone who heard about Christopher’s efforts online.

“I wanted to borrow a rake and a bucket so he didn’t have to carry bags and people just started chiming in,” Smith said referring to her Facebook post.

Smith said donations form the community have been overwhelming.

“I got a wagon some rakes, gloves,” Christopher said.

Brian Paris of Cedar Rapids stopped by to give Christopher a hot lunch, a hat for the sun and a broom.

“I guess I would just ask everybody to just to reach into your pantries, basement, into your storage tubs, pull out anything people can use. It’s just sitting there anyways,” Paris said.

Paris said it’s people like Christopher and his mom that are helping make a difference right now, something he wants to support.

“It’s definitely beautiful to see the community wrap their arms around my son, a young man who hopefully is going to grow up in this community and be a positive, a positive leader. I’m trying my best as a single mom,” Smith said.

Christopher said he’ll keep working, using his new tools, as long as his neighbors are in need.

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