Six-year-old Halethorpe resident Tyler Stallings was featured on NBC's "Little Big Shots," which reconigzed him for his work with homeless veterans.
A person can never be too young to make a difference, as proven by Halethorpe 6-year-old Tyler Stallings.
Tyler is being recognized on NBC’s TV show “Little Big Shots” on Sunday for his work in assisting veterans and creating his signature “hero packs,” which provide hygiene products and other necessities for homeless veterans.
His experience on the show, which is hosted by Steve Harvey and spotlights talented youngsters, was an unforgettable one, he said.
“The best part of ‘Little Big Shots’ is that I got to meet Mr. Harvey. It was my first time on a plane. I had a great time in California … and I also got to say what I do,” said Tyler, who donned a cape with a capital “T” during the filming of the show last fall.
Tyler’s mother, Andrea Blackstone, said her son, who comes from a family of veterans, was first motivated to help after seeing a YouTube video that included a homeless veteran holding a cardboard sign.
“His head was down, and he was very sad. [Tyler] saw that image, and … he started asking more questions and he said, ‘Well, Mom, you told me that veterans have done so much for our country. … Why are they homeless?” she said.
From that point on, Tyler was set on making a difference. His first idea was to build homes for veterans. He asked his mother to take him to the store to by lumber, hammers and supplies. But with Blackstone’s help, they came up with a more feasible idea — giving homeless veterans hygiene products.
The nonprofit MCVET offers housing and a range of services for homeless female veterans. Serving these women often means addressing issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder, unemployment, poor health, mental illness, domestic violence and military sexual trauma, or MST.
Tyler started by visiting elderly veterans at the Armed Forces Retirement Home in Washington, and later began distributing Easter care baskets to veterans, including male homeless veterans in a transitional home in Anne Arundel County.
“It was just to uplift their spirits,” Blackstone said, but eventually people began to ask when Tyler would return. Tyler, too, wanted to do more.
In the cold weather, the bags are filled with gloves, hand warmers, snacks — “anything that might be helpful to make them more comfortable,” Blackstone said. In the warmer weather, the bags contain handy items, like sneakers, and things that keep them cool, like T-shirts. Tyler has handed out around 500 hero packs.
Blackstone said Tyler’s initiatives are funded through proceeds from Kid Time Enterprises, of which Tyler is the honorary CEO, and a book he co-wrote with his mother called “Tyler Goes Around the World.” He’s also used the funds to donate items needed at locally based veterans organizations, including the Maryland Center for Veterans Education and Training.
And when Tyler is in need of more money to purchase supplies, Blackstone said Tyler ventures out in his superhero costume, standing in front of grocery stores and other public places (with permission, she noted) to gain more support.
“Some people doubted, because he’s so young, that he could make a difference, and they felt like they had to have a lot of money to support veterans. But if the community gets involved and they find out how they can support on a community level, we can make a difference,” Blackstone said.