The men who frequent City Union Mission's emergency homeless shelter in downtown Kansas City don't have much but for the last two years, they've been quietly raising money to help defray the medical expenses of a local girl with leukemia.
And last week, Payton Adams, 4, and her mother visited the shelter for the first time and met some of the men who have been helping the family.
"It is amazing how these guys who have very little, how pennies up to dollars, dollars add up to hundreds. We have sometimes come out of here with $500, $300, whatever they have," LeiLani Adams, Payton's mom, told local NBC affiliate KSHB. "It has really been a blessing."
Officials at the shelter said the fundraising project was started by Johnny Evans, the evening manager at the shelter.
Evans, a former shelter resident who now works there, is also a security guard at the daycare center that Payton attends and got to know the family there, said Laurie Grant, City Union Mission's media coordinator.
Grant said the shelter staff had no idea about the fundraising project until recently, when a member of the staff overheard Evans talking about it.
"That's how we realized it was going on," Grant said. "There can be negative stereotypes about the homeless, but with your clients you get to know them and you realize they want to help and have a purpose and be part of something bigger. It wasn't just pennies and nickles and dimes — there were dollars in there."
The men at the shelter have been collecting the donations in large plastic water jugs. Last week marked the third time the men have delivered a jug of donations to the family.