YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – Next week, kids will be heading back into the classroom for the new school year, and hundreds of those kids in Youngstown will be doing so with new backpacks and school supplies.
It’s all because of a group called City Kids Care. The group has now spent half a decade helping children in Youngstown.
Behind it all is a man who truly knows what it means to serve.
This week’s Hometown Hero, Brandon Perry, wants to give young students the things he never had.
“I was one of those kids that often had to start school late because I didn’t have a pair of shoes to go to school,” Perry said.
Perry is busy with his mission, spending time this week in Columbus to put together another giveaway of free backpacks.
But his charity City Kids Care is not just about handouts. They take kids in Youngstown skating and bowling or for one-day camps with activities.
“There would be times when parents would cry and tell us they didn’t have any money. They’re not doing that well financially,” he said. “It’s a very emotional moment, sometimes.”
City Kids Care President Twon Ahart said his colleague, Perry, truly cares.
“If you spend 10 minutes around the guy, you see how passionate he is about what he does,” he said.
Perry recruited Ahart to the charity five years ago. Ahart said Perry is constantly traveling because he is in the Army.
“He’s based out of Kentucky right now, so everything he does, he’s traveling back and forth from where he’s located to do what he’s doing,” he said. “To me, that right there, the passion along is phenomenal.”
Perry graduated from Chaney High School and had several tours of duty overseas.
“Coming from being deployed in Iraq, I wanted to bring something back to the city. Youngstown made me the man I am today, along with my parents, so my thing is to give back to Youngstown as much as possible,” he said.
Perry said over the years, more than 10,000 kids have taken part in the charity’s events. Two weeks ago in Youngstown, City Kids Care teamed up with former Ohio State football player Maurice Clarett for Back to School Outreach Fest. In one day, 800 people showed up.
“Working together is key,” Perry said. “It’s the key, the key to everything in life.”
The mission goes on for Perry. He said once they finish up their back-to-school giveaways, they want to expand the work of City Kids Care to add literacy programs and make sure more kids in Youngstown develop a love for reading.