Like many 10 year-olds, A’veion Robinson enjoys video games and going outside to play basketball. Unlike many 10 year-olds, Aveion runs two small businesses and is passionate about helping the homeless – especially on the holidays.
A’veion, a student at Douglas L. Jamerson Elementary in St. Petersburg, came up with the idea to distribute bags of snacks and supplies to the area’s homeless when he was just 7 years old.
“I just love helping the homeless,” said A’veion. “That’s what gave me the idea. Just do good things every holiday.”
Now, in its third year, A’veion’s Annual Homeless Holiday Baggies have become quite the family tradition. His baggies contain essential toiletries such as toothpaste, toothbrushes, hand sanitizer, lotion and deodorant, along with snacks and juices. When asked his favorite thing to include in the gift bags, he quickly and emphatically stated, “fruit snacks.”
A’veion’s mother, Nichole Gordon, said they distributed the bags at Williams Park for the first two years. As the homeless population at the park has recently dwindled, she said they will spread some holiday cheer at the home office of St. Vincent de Paul, the nonprofit homeless-aid organization, and wherever they see groups of those in need.
A’veion said his favorite part of the holiday is Christmas. Not for the presents he hopes to receive, although he has asked Santa for a computer, but because he gets to play Santa himself.
“I get to help out others,” he said. “And give them presents and stuff like that.”
Gordon said she is taken aback by her son’s desire to help the homeless. While she is proud beyond description, she admits that it gets to be a lot around Christmas and thinks it is a little beyond their means. “But this is just something that he has always loved doing,” she added. “So, I support it 100%.”
Gordon said that A’veion is tight with his money and believes in saving. The first year, the mother and son duo handed out 25 bags, and A’veion pitched in his savings while mom paid for the rest. The second year, they passed out 50 bags and again split the cost.
On Dec. 20, A’veion will distribute 100 bags, and the 10-year-old is paying about 80% of the cost – because Aveion is also a businessman.
“He does participate in the Saturday Morning Shoppe, and he does very well between working the Saturday Morning Shoppe and his candy business,” said Gordon.
Gordon bought her son three of the little three-headed candy machines you often find in waiting rooms for his birthday last year, as he wanted to start his own business. He has since added another machine, and Robinson again said her son “does very well.”
Renee Edwards, founder of the Saturday Morning Shoppe, is A’veion’s godmother. A’veion decided he wanted in on the action. Robinson began ordering exotic candies for her son to sell at the market, and A’veion’s Candyland was born. Aveion also sells fruit juices, water and sodas.
This Saturday, Dec. 4, A’veion will offer a new treat at the Shoppe – waffles on a stick. Customers can add chocolate, white chocolate or maple syrup glaze and choose toppings such as sprinkles or crushed Oreos.
“He’s just – this is my brainiac child,” began Gordon with a hint of exasperation in her voice. “He wants to try 1,001 businesses, but I support everything.”
Gordon relayed that her son’s giving spirit knows no bounds, sometimes to her chagrin. She said when they see a homeless person on the corner, A’veion insists that she give them money. Gordon will try and hand them a couple of dollars, but A’veion wants to give more, and she has to reiterate they cannot afford to give everyone they see $10.
“It’s to the point where we can be pulling out of McDonald’s, and he will go in the bag and hand them my food,” said Gordon with a laugh. “I’m like, ‘why did you give them my food. Give them your food.'”
While A’veion’s giving and entrepreneurial spirit can get to be a lot for his mom, she is proud to do whatever it takes to support his endeavors. Gordon said her son has big dreams, and she will follow every dream he has, even if it means she goes broke. She adds he is not only motivated to make money but also to help people. A quality she believes is not often found in kids these days.
“If I have to risk it all, then we’re going to risk it all to do what A’veion wants to do,” said Gordon. “I’m sure one day it’s going to pay off.”
A’veion plans to continue handing out his Homeless Holiday Baggies indefinitely and has a message for the less fortunate:
“I want them to know that I love helping them, and I care about them,” he said.
For more information on A’veion’s Annual Homeless Holiday Baggies or A’veion’s Candyland, call Nichole Gordon at (727) 203-0548.