As Jane Khan’s thirteenth birthday approached, she found herself asking how she could help people experiencing homelessness in her neighborhood of Deer Park, Texas. Jane went to her parents with an idea: She wanted to spend her birthday giving people items that would make them feel loved. Jane originally made a goal of helping 500 people living on the street—but with the support of her community, Jane’s project became more significant than she ever could have dreamed.
Jane’s parents, Becky and Max, have always encouraged her to seek out ways that she could help others. Growing up in a supportive church community, Jane’s family frequently spent Christmas with families who had nowhere else to go, served food to those in need, and passed out blankets to people who were sleeping on the streets.
“The idea to help homeless people started when I was ten years old. I went with a friend and we handed out blankets, pillows, and socks to people on the streets,” Jane says.
Led by her parent’s example, Jane’s desire to serve others grew as she got older. For her thirteenth birthday, she decided she wanted to do something special for people living on the streets near her suburban neighborhood. She hung flyers and knocked on doors to let her neighbors know that she would be making care bags to hand out. Jane made it her goal to give out 500 bags to people in need — each one filled with wipes, socks, chapstick, band-aids, deodorant, toothbrush, toothpaste, and soap.
“She’s always had a heart for those who are less fortunate and compassion that was unusual for her age,” Jane’s mom says. “As she got older, it was very apparent that helping others was important to her.”
To Jane’s surprise, her community rallied around her and started donating supplies to her cause. Packages full of toothbrushes and soap started landing on their doorstep. Jane was shocked at how quickly her community stepped up to help.
“On my birthday, my parents took my friends and me to hand out bags for the first time,” Jane says. “We handed out almost 200 bags to people who were living under a bridge. One woman kissed me on the forehead and was giving hugs to all my friends — that was really special.”
Jane met her original goal of giving out 500 bags within just a few trips to the local overpass. After she met her goal, she and her family still found themselves spending evenings talking and praying with people living under the overpass. One of the most memorable experiences Jane and her parents had while handing out bags was meeting a man named Chris and his dog, Charlie Brown.
“He told us that he had fallen on hard times and ended up on the streets,” Becky recalls. “We talked with him for a while and he asked us if he could pray for us before we left. He got down on his knees and prayed — for us and for what we were doing. That was really impactful.”
Jane was so inspired by the people that she was helping that she doubled her original goal and decided to make 500 more bags to hand out. But with the need for more supplies came a much larger cost. With the help of her parents, Jane decided to start a GoFundMe to help fund her growing quest to help those less fortunate.
“We started our GoFundMe because there was no way that we could collect enough supplies for 1,000 bags,” says Becky. “The bags cost an average of $8 each, and that’s a lot of money.”
Once Jane’s GoFundMe was up and running, donations started rolling in and she got to work building more bags to give out. In almost five months, Jane has raised nearly $4,000 with the goal of helping as many people as possible through her care bags. People in the neighborhood have also joined in on her efforts, often calling to let Jane know where they’ve seen people in need of a care bag.
Jane has already helped over 1,000 people, but her dream has become much more substantial than she initially thought. She has now set her sights on eventually raising enough money to build a shelter to provide temporary housing for people moving through homelessness. To start this process, Jane has obtained 501(c)(3) status, making her project, Jane Around the World, Inc., a nonprofit. While her new goals are developing, she plans to continue handing out bags to provide basic necessities to people experiencing homelessness.
“Jane has wanted to take care of people since she was little. It doesn’t matter if we hand out 1,000 bags or 10, I’m just glad this is where her heart is,” Becky says.
Jane hopes that she can inspire other community members to take action while she continues lending a hand to people in her community and beyond.
“Pray about it and move,” Jane says. “Don’t let the fear of starting stop you! Sometimes we think that we can’t make a difference, but it only takes one person to be kind and start something good.”