IMPACT
11/20/2014 05:57 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

This 5-Year-Old Gives Homeless Kids Care Packages That Make Them Feel Right At Home

Jayla Newson found it unacceptable when she spotted a girl and her mother living without a home. So she did something about it.

"She was like, 'What can money buy?'" Jayla's mother told the "Today" show. "What can [we give] that could make it better?"

It marked the beginning of Jayla's extraordinary efforts helping the homeless in her own hometown.

Jayla is a finalist in Sprout’s Kindest Kid contest for her work helping children and families with no stable shelter in Virginia Beach, Virginia, where she lives. The 5-year-old gathers bags filled with items like crackers, soap, lotion and toothpaste to give to both shelters and people living on the streets.

She calls the bags Jayla's Little Helping Hands.

Homelessness is no new issue in Jayla's hometown. In 2011, Virginia Beach grappled with the controversial idea of establishing an official "tent city" for the 453 homeless residents in the area, Business Reporter noted. But the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development reported earlier this month that overall homelessness has dropped considerably -- 23 percent since 2010, across the state -- according to the Virginian-Pilot.

Jayla -- who is one of five finalists in the contest -- donates some of her bags to Seton Youth Shelters, which offer emergency shelter and counseling for runaway and homeless kids.

Jennifer Sieracki of the organization said Jayla's bags brighten the lives of many children who show up at the center in the middle of the night "with the clothes on their backs."

"Gifts like Jayla's provide them things they may miss because they're not at home," she told the "Today" show.

To vote for Jayla in the contest or learn about the other finalists, visit Today.com.

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