Amy Haynes may not have the power to reduce the number of homeless children in the Muscogee County School District, or remove the challenges that they face every day.
But she's trying to do something to make their lives better.
That's why she started an organization called That 1 Little Thing Foundation to advocate on behalf of homeless students. The organization recently raised hundreds of dollars so the students won't go hungry over the Christmas break.
Haynes is the co-owner of three local bars -- Bootleggers, Twisted and the Living Room -- all of which are donating to the project, she said. Another $1,000 was donated by Northside High School students
who bought 200 gift cards to McDonald's and other fast food places.
Haynes said she decided to launch T1LT after a school district parent coordinator, Jennifer Ogletree, informed her church that there are about 900 homeless children in the school district, and many of them only get a meal when they come to school.
"It's just mind-blowing to me that right here in our own back yard so many kids are going hungry," Haynes said. "Not in Africa, or Haiti, or some other third world country. Right here in our own town that we live in. It's insane to me."
Haynes said she was raised by a single mother who struggled financially when she was younger but is now an executive at Columbus Regional.
"If we did not have the extended family we had, we could have very well been in this same position," she said of homelessness. "So many people are out there working so hard, and for so little money."
Haynes said she met some of homeless high school students at a recent event and they defied all the stereotypes. "They were not street thugs or anything like I could ever imagine," she said. "They were all so polite, and well groomed. Beautiful teens that just want a shot at life."
She hopes her foundation makes a difference in their lives.
"I want people to realize if they were born in another family, one with no connections, one that didn't provide them with a car to drive, or food to eat... that they could very well be in these kids' position in life," she said. "They just need a helping hand."