9 year old building small shelters for Bremerton homeless

Eric Wilkinson reports.

BREMERTON, Wash. -- Hailey Fort has a friend. His name is Edward.

"He's really nice," she said. "He's easy to talk with."

Edward is not the typical person you'd want your 9-year-old daughter hanging out with, but Hailey is no typical girl.

Edward is homeless. He lost his job at a local supermarket.

"I don't really want him to be rained on by all the bad weather we get here," said Hailey.

It's a good thing for Edward that Hailey is pretty good with power tools.

She spends much of her spare time these days working with nail guns, hydraulic staplers and electric drills in her yard. But she isn't building a clubhouse or tree fort.

That's kid stuff.

"I'm building a mobile sleeping shelter," she said in her quiet voice.

The shelter is an 8x4-foot wooden structure, complete with windows, a front door and insulation. She plans to give it to Edward. Aside from using big power saws, Hailey does all of the work herself, with guidance from her mom and her contractor grandfather who gives telephone assistance from his home in Arizona.

The kid knows her stuff.

"If there was no insulation he would get cold. If there was no tar paper he would get a draft," she said.

Here's how it all started.

A few years ago Hailey saw a homeless man on the street and thought it would be nice to buy him a sandwich. She and her mom did so. From there Hailey figured, why give one person a sandwich when you can feed many more with a garden.

So she planted a garden that she harvests for the local food bank. She donated 128 pounds last year.

From that garden grew the shelter idea, as well as various other efforts providing health and hygiene supplies to the homeless.

"If she had her way we'd have mobile sleeping shelters taking up our front lawn," said Hailey's mother, Miranda.

Hailey received a $3,000 grant from Together Rising and momastery.com for her efforts. She plans to use the money to build 11 more of shelters, so that not just her friend Edward, but some of his friends will also have warm, dry places to sleep.

The family says they hope to deploy the shelters in Bremerton's permanent Tent City, which is supposed to open later this year. Each shelter costs about $300 to build, thanks to a 50% discount in materials provided by the Silverdale Lowes Hardware store.

"It just doesn't seem right that there are homeless people," Hailey said. "I think everyone should have a place to live."

A GoFundMe account has been set up on Hailey's Facebook page for people interested in donating to her cause.


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