Nevaeh Bowne

Nevaeh Bowne, 13, who for the last few years has taken money out of her piggy bank to make gift bags and given them out to our homeless residents in the City of Frederick. She will be doing so again on the weekend. She is shown preparing a few of the gift bags for distribution.

While many kids save up spare change in a piggy bank, there might not be many who are looking to spend their money the way Nevaeh Bowne has.

The 13-year-old Walkersville Middle School student will be spending her Saturday delivering holiday gift bags to some of Frederick’s homeless individuals downtown. Bowne used money she saved throughout the year to make the bags, filled with much-needed supplies.

Bowne said this is the third Christmas season she’s engaged in the project, saying it grew out of a desire in her heart to do something to help people.

“Since I was a little girl, when I see homeless people, I’d always have sympathy for them and there’s a part of me that always wanted to help them,” Bowne said. “I’d always give them my money and food to try to help them.”

Then, she said, she came up with the idea to make gift bags containing hand warmers, blankets, food and some hygiene products. She said she normally spends about $100 on the annual project, and it’s all money she saved throughout the year.

“I just save up all my chores money, so it takes a couple months,” she said.

Bowne met this week with Frederick Mayor Michael O’Connor, who commended the middle schooler on her attempts to help the community. A post from O’Connor’s Facebook page praised her efforts.

“Her selfless generosity epitomizes the holiday spirit and impacts some of our most vulnerable in the community,” O’Connor wrote. “Even in her young age, Nevaeh has taken action to make this community a better place for everyone.”

Bowne, who spoke with a reporter before her meeting with the mayor, said she hopes the attention on her project inspires others to perform similar acts of selflessness.

“It makes me feel like, with my starting this little project, it could turn into something really big,” she said. “If I meet the mayor, this could help inspire other people… I want to inspire them to help the homeless. I want them to have the sympathy to help them.”

Bowne’s grandmother, Tawanda Bailey, said it’s been remarkable watching Bowne grow up into someone who wants to change the world.

“That’s her spirit; she’s got a truly big heart,” she said. “I’ve seen her do this since she was just a little tyke. She has a lot of compassion and enjoys doing things throughout the community.”

Bailey said when Bowne was younger, she wanted to help the local fire department, especially since Bailey’s husband and Bowne’s grandfather is Capt. Andre Bailey with Frederick County Fire and Rescue.

“One of the things she wanted to do over the holidays was to go to the fire department and deliver things,” Bailey said of her granddaughter. “She makes us proud.”

Bowne’s aunt, Ashli Morris, echoed Bailey’s sentiments.

“She’s a pretty good kid,” Morris said, laughing at her own understatement. “We’re all very proud of her.”

As for the project itself, Bowne said she hopes it continues to grow from here.

“I want to keep building up this until it’s something big,” she said. “I want to make little bags to keep in the car, so when I see people on the sidewalks asking for food, I’ll have stuff to just give it to them.”

In her own future, Bowne said she is unsure of what she’d like to do when she grows up, but mentioned thinking about becoming a criminologist, a business owner or “going on expeditions” around the globe. When she’s not performing acts of service around the community, she said she likes learning about history and language arts at school.

Correction: This story has been updated to correct Ashli Morris' relationship to Nevaeh Bowne. Morris is her aunt.

Follow Patrick Kernan on Twitter: @PatKernan

(1) comment


What a beautiful gesture and certainly shows your wonderful, caring, thoughtful personality. You are a great person and role model. Happy holidays to you and your family.

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