In 2017, Liam Hannon didn’t want to go to summer camp. But he promised his dad, Scott, he’d stay busy and found an online treasure hunt called Brain Chase that challenged him to create a project to serve his community. Liam decided to make lunches for the homeless people he saw in his Cambridge, Massachusetts, neighborhood, so one day he and his dad made sandwiches in their apartment kitchen, packed them in brown bags, and loaded them into a green garden wagon. They passed out about 20 lunches that first week. Liam’s Lunches of Love was born.
“That [first week] was going to be it,” Scott remembers, “but then Liam said, ‘Dad, can we do this again? I like doing this.’ So we kept doing it, and each week it grew a little bit more.” If the food is appreciated, so are the receptacles: Liam draws a picture or writes a kind note on every bag. He has also recruited his friends to help him create the bags—one drew a dinosaur and wrote, “Here’s a T-rex cuz I like you.” Now the handcrafted bags are being donated from locations as far away as Kentucky. “The messages are probably the most underrated part of the whole thing,” Scott says. “There are people who save every single bag, staple them together, and make a whole book of them. It makes their day.”
As the effort grew, Liam and his dad started a GoFundMe campaign to get help buying supplies to meet the growing need. As Liam says on the GoFundMe page, “We’re feeding so many people that our wagon is just too small. . . . Donations made to this campaign will help me make as many lunches as possible and buy a new Electric Beach Wagon for Lunches of Love . . . [the new wagon] will allow us to carry more, go farther, and also have items to give out on the wagon at all times. . . . Any extra money I raise on this campaign will go straight to buying food, drinks, and supplies for the meals we make.”
Liam estimates that it takes about $2 to make one lunch. He set the starting campaign goal at $10,000 and has already outstripped that goal. With the help of actor Harry Connick Jr. and others, he raised more than $17,000 in one day. Local grocery stores contribute meals, too. Friends and neighbors volunteer time to hand out bags. Liam hopes to one day have a Lunches of Love Food Truck.
He’ll have to wait a few years to be able to drive it, though: he’s still only 12. But the kid clearly has an old soul. “It’s . . . a way to give people joy,” Liam told WBZ-TV. “I think the message is to spread positivity.”
Thumbnail credit: Screen shot from “10 year old passes out homemade lunches to homeless people every week” via Liam’s Lunches of Love on YouTube.
Janice Deal is a writer, an editor, and a lover of found objects. Her short-story collection, The Decline of Pigeons (Queen’s Ferry Press, 2013), was a finalist for the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction. Her first novel, The Sound of Rabbits, was recently named a finalist in the Many Voices Project Prose competition. Janice lives in Downers Grove, Illinois, with her husband, daughter, and three disreputable cats.
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