Mother Theresa famously said, “If you can’t feed 100 people just feed one.” For Liam Hannon, this advice hit close to home, literally. When challenged by a 2017 summer project to reach out to the homeless community, then 10-year old Liam had only to look out his front door. He and his family live in Cambridge’s Central Square, a neighborhood that attracts a steady number of homeless people. His idea – to make lunch for some of the folks he saw in the Square, mushroomed. Twenty lunches became 40 became 60 and Liam’s Lunches of Love was born. With his dad’s help, Liam built a solar-powered electric wagon that can carry 1,500 pounds of food and includes fold-out tables and a coffee station.
Passionate about kindness, about ending hunger at home, about treating all people with dignity and respect, Liam and his GoFundMe campaign has raised more than $40,000 to feed the hungry. If food is love, then Mother Theresa is surely smiling.
What inspires you to volunteer?
The summer of 2017 I didn’t want to go to summer camp, but I had signed up for Brain Chase, which is kind of a summer camp online with productive and academic challenges. And one of the categories was service to the homeless – that’s what got me started. We made 20 lunches and it was really great, so I asked my dad if I could do it again.
Describe your volunteer role with Liam’s Lunches of Love.
I am the founder and I still do a lot of the work, making lunches and handing them out. I work with volunteers and try to get my friends to volunteer. I have also become I guess the face of the project – I always and work on partnerships and fund raising. We started our GoFundMe page with a few thousand dollars and since we’ve raised more than $40,000.
What’s been the most rewarding part of your work?
Meeting the people on the streets, being able to connect with them, have real conversations with them – that’s the best part for me.
What have you learned through your experiences as a volunteer?
I’ve learned that bad things can happen to all kinds of people and is where they can end up. And that it’s possible to do things to help them. My perceptions about homelessness have been educated.
Are there any future partnerships, programs, or events that you are excited about?
I was so excited to be on the Today Show for Giving Tuesday. Also I recently went to Hartford CT to do an event with Hartford Bags of Love, a group that gives out care packages in their community. I also work with Hildebrand Family Self Help Center to raise money for school supplies for more than 400 local kids experiencing homelessness. I’m especially excited about #themillionlunchchallenge program we have launched – we have heard from people giving lunches in places like China, Canada and all over the U.S. Social media is a very important way for us to track our programs and let people know what we are doing.
Why do you think it’s important for others to give back?
I think it’s important because everyone needs some kindness in their lives, no matter how they identify – we should treat everyone the same as we want to be treated.
What do you want people to learn from your story?
Sometimes the smallest, simplest ideas can really take off!
Do you want to make a difference in your community like Liam? Find local volunteer opportunities.