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.
Full Transcript of Video Interview is Below:
– Hi, I’m Greg Sher. Our NFM Salute for the month of July, 2020 is an impressive young man by any standard. Eight year old Marylander, Tyler Stallings, has been giving hero bags to retired and homeless Veterans since the age of four. To date, he’s given over 6,000 of them. His tireless efforts to salute our Vets has gained him national recognition, including appearing on the Steve Harvey show, “Little Big Shots”. Before we meet Tyler, let’s take a look.
– Tyler, that’s pretty good, man. So, what’s in your superhero backpack?
– Well, let’s go and see.
– And joining us now, from his home in Halethorpe, Maryland is the one, the only, Tyler Stallings – our July NFM Salute. Tyler, thanks so much for being with us on NFM TV.
– Thank you.
– We’re so happy to have you. Before we get started, what was it like being on the Steve Harvey show?
– It was very exciting and I had a good time getting to meet Steve Harvey. It had actually been my dream.
– Man, well, it looked like you had so much fun. So, we showed a little clip of that, and at the end we saw you about to go into one of your hero bags. You have given over 6,000 hero bags to retired and homeless Veterans since you started this endeavor at four years old. You’re now eight, about to turn nine in August. Why don’t you tell us what goes into those hero bags? What are some of the contents?
– Well, we do things like, normally what would be in it, maybe some sanitizer right now we’re giving gloves, but we’re sticking usually we stick with sanitizer, some underclothes, toiletries, gift cards, socks. I just got them some KN95 masks …lots of things that they would need. And then we give them resources. 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. A lot of times they open the bag up as soon as we leave because you know, you can tell they need it a lot. And so another way we deal with them is in the shelter. This is a little bit different because they already have a resource, but we’re giving them the supplies. We’re thinking about starting, like doing it live shopping if somebody has a cell phone. So like we did that once and it worked out pretty well. Took pictures, sent it to them and said, well, what do you need? And they would just tell us.
– We’re looking at a couple of pictures right now of you going and shopping for those items. NFM donated $2,500 towards the cause. How long did it take for you to spend the $2,500? And do you have any idea how many items you were able to purchase with that?
– I was able to buy hundreds of items and I had a good time doing it, and I did it maybe over a 2 or 3 day period.
– We’re so excited that we were able to help you do that. Bring us back to what started this. It’s almost been five years since you gave your first gift to a homeless Veteran. How’d you get into this?
– Well, when I was four, my mom showed me a video of homeless Veterans because she wanted to teach her child about, you know, how Veterans served in the military and what happened when they got out. But what she didn’t expect was for me to say, well, you know, this isn’t fair. And I said, I wanted to build houses, which we obviously couldn’t do. And so I created hero bags and gave them out and it was supposed to be once a year, but obviously it’s grown to full time now.
– The two places that you focus most of your attention on are the Baltimore Center for Homeless Vets and also the Armed Forces Retirement Homes. Tell us about those places.
– So they consider me as their little super hero. I drop most of my donations off there. When it’s open, I usually eat some of my meals there. They have some good chefs, I gotta say.
– Your a grandfather and great grandfather also served. So you come from a long lineage of people who have served our country. Is that right?
– Yes. My grandfather, he would tell me some of the tales of things that happened in the military. I had a little recorder and I will play it back and listen to it.
– And so for other kids out there that see this that want to get involved, what kind of advice do you have for them?
– If you want to start doing something You don’t need a big pile of money or you don’t have to be rich or have a fortune.
– Well said. We are now going to share the information for those watching this that are compelled to participate and join this incredible mission of yours. Tyler, I know that you feel very strongly that every dollar makes an impact.
– Yes, we do some shopping at the Dollar Tree. And so just $1 can help to get a Veteran a stick of deodorant or a box of cereal.
– Can you just stand up real quick and show us what you have on. I understand you have a cape on.
– So this is my cape. For me it’s saying I’m on a mission.
– Well, Tyler, you are a real life superhero in the eyes of so many. Thank you for spending some time with us here on NFM TV and for agreeing to be our July, 2020 NFM Salute. Continued success. We plan on following you in the days, months and years ahead.
– Thank you TYhat’s Tyler Stallings from Halethorpe, Maryland. He is our July NFM Salute. And what a special one it was. I’m Greg Sher from NFM TV. We’ll see you next time. Thank you NFM for helping the Veterans.