Eight-year-old Kaidance Lewallen has many plans.
She wants to feed people, maybe opening a soup kitchen. She wants to start a small animal rescue. And that’s just the start.
But she’s just eight, after all. So she’ll start small.
That’s the purpose of Kai’s Heart, a charitable effort being organized by Kaidance. Her goal? To hold fundraisers and events that will help send love and warmth to the less fortunate among us.
“Kaidance has a huge heart and she wants to be a voice for the voiceless,” explains her father, Scott County Sheriff’s Department drug agent Kris Lewallen.
Kaidance approached her parents — Kris and Heather Lewallen — with the idea for the charity. They helped her organize it, and now she’s ready to hit the ground running. She will start by setting up in front of El Rey Azteca in Oneida Plaza on Saturday to accept donations of warm clothes — such as jackets, blankets, socks and related items — to deliver to a homeless shelter in Knoxville.
“The reason I want to help others is because when they get on their feet eventually they will help someone too and it will keep going and going,” Kaidance said. “Love makes the world go around.”
The eight-year-old is driven by an ideal that has been espoused many times through the years, not the least being when America’s founding fathers enshrined it into the Declaration of Independence, but too seldom put into practice: All are equal in God’s eyes. “We all feel pain and suffering and we all feel love and caring,” she said.
It is somewhat appropriate that Kai’s Heart — which already has a Facebook page set up (@KaisHeartTN) — is launching during the holiday season. It is at this time of year that people the world over are celebrating the spirit of giving. And it is also at this time of year that people are feeling especially generous. The Christmas season, after all, seems to cause all of us to pause and reflect on the blessings we have that others may not have.
It is also during this time of year that homeless shelters are in need of items to pass on to their clients. Cold weather is fast approaching, and many homeless men and women cannot afford to walk into a clothing store and purchase a winter coat.
Kaidance may be only eight, but it isn’t lost on her that she has been blessed with food, shelter, clothing and the love of family. So, she says, it is only appropriate to pass it on.
“If I deserve to be warm in the cold, then so do they,” she said.
From here, the sky may be the limit for Kai’s Heart. Even at a young age, she considers herself vegan and refuses to eat animals. She uses the Gentle Barn, a small animal rescue in Knoxville, as inspiration for what she can accomplish as an advocate for animals someday.
For now, though, she’ll start with helping people.
“If we don’t help people who need it, who will?” she asks. “Someone has to actually do something instead of just thinking ‘oh how sad.’”