Kindness Kits was brought to the triboro area all the way from Seattle
The holiday spirit of giving is starting early this year in Palmyra. Thanks to Palmyra native Dominick Camillo, you can do your part to help the less fortunate this holiday season.
Camillo is the founder of an organization called Kindness Kits. Camillo came up with the idea when he was living in Seattle and volunteering at a homeless shelter.
When he wasn’t working at the shelter, Camillo would hand out sandwiches and socks on the street. He says one man he met told him shelters are always willing to feed him — what he really needed was a blanket and some warm socks.
That’s when Camillo decided to set up a GoFundMe page to help raise money to buy the materials for the kits. He was thrilled when he raised more than $1,000 — much of the money coming from his old friends back home in South Jersey.
When Camillo moved to Philadelphia, he reunited with a few of his high school friends in the area, and Kindness Kits began to take off. Kindness Kits is now based in Palmyra, Cinnaminson, Riverton and Philadelphia.
“These girls are way more organized than I ever was,” Camillo said of his former classmates. “They had the idea of making kits for the homeless with mouthwash, toiletries and putting in hats and gloves. It was 10 steps above what I was doing by myself.”
Camillo also puts $5 in each pack, saying he knows that sometimes a few dollars in your pocket can mean a lot.
The group has been collecting clothes and other donations the entire year, but most of the kits will be handed out during the winter months. Camillo recommends visiting the Kindness Kits Facebook page if you’d like to donate. Send him a message, and he will personally pick up your donation.
While many of the kits will be distributed in the Philadelphia area where homelessness is more prominent, Camillo says he always keeps at least five kits in his trunk to give out if he sees somebody in need. Triboro residents are welcome to let Camillo know if they would like to carry a few kits around as well.
Camillo added the group is always looking for help putting kits together. While Camillo has been collecting for the kids for more than seven years, it didn’t become a group effort until this past year. Despite having extra hands, Camillo could always use more.
While Camillo is still working out the details of when they will start distributing the kits, he would like to focus on handing them out in the two weeks before Christmas.
Camillo says he loves to help the less fortunate because he is aware of just how fortunate he is.
“We have to realize how lucky we are. I never realized what it was like to not have a jacket, because I always had one. When they look at you and say, ‘Thank you for giving me something to keep me warm,’ it hurts me inside because I can’t believe they’re going through that,” Camillo said. “Whether they’re a drug addict or just down on their luck, they’re still a human being that needs help. A lot of these people have just had a hard time in their life and are trying to get back on their feet.”
Camillo added that when he was having a difficult time in his own life, he didn’t realize how lucky he was to have people who helped him. Now that he’s doing better, he wants to pay it forward.
“Seeing people who are out there and don’t have that, knowing that I can help them in some way is a pretty powerful feeling,” Camillo said.