Will Middleton, 10, Pequot Lakes, decided to donate the money he would have rece

Will's goodwill


Will Middleton isn’t your typical 10-year-old.

The Pequot Lakes fourth-grader decided he didn’t want any Christmas presents this year. Instead, he asked his family and friends to donate money or buy necessary items for Minnesota homeless teens.


“It seemed good to do because not everyone has the stuff that we have,” Will said.

Will’s mom, Kathy Gilchrist, had read a news story about a child who had started a “Pay it Forward” type experience and mom and son had recently watched the “Pay it Forward” movie. It got them both thinking about ways to help others during the holidays.

For the last two weeks, Will has been collecting donations. His family members, including his mom, gave him the money they were going to spend on him for Christmas so he could donate it to Avenues for Homeless Youth, which provides emergency shelter, short-term housing and supportive services for homeless youth in Minneapolis. According to its website, on any given night in Minnesota, 2,500 youth and young adults are homeless and on their own. More than 10,000 young people in the state experience homelessness each year.

Will was able to collect $375, in lieu of his Christmas gifts. He and his mom went shopping so he could buy items off the organization’s wish list with the money she would have spent on him for Christmas, including toiletry items, journals, sheets, body wash, and shower flip flops.

Will and his mom delivered the money and supplies to the homeless teen shelter on Monday.

“It was nice,” said Kathy. “I think he did a really good job. It was a very nice thing for him to do for Christmas. I thought it was pretty selfless of him to do that. I was proud of him.”

Will is an active Eagleview Elementary fourth-grader. He’s involved in basketball, tennis, golf, Cub Scouts and 4-H. He recently earned his black belt in karate.

Will said his favorite part about Christmas is getting up in the morning and finding presents under the tree. Santa Claus might be leaving a little something for him under the tree on Christmas Day, said his mom.

Will said he hopes that others will donate to homeless teens, too.

Those who wish to make a donation may send checks to Avenues for Homeless Youth, 1708 Oak Park Ave. N., Minneapolis, MN 55411. Their website is

JODIE TWEED may be reached at or 855-5858.

Jodie Tweed
Jodie Tweed has been a staff writer at the Brainerd Dispatch since May 1997, primarily covering education and writing human interest stories. She also took over as HealthWatch editor in the spring of 2010. A graduate of Pequot Lakes High School, she received her bachelor’s degree in mass communications at Bemidji State University and her master’s degree in mass communications at St. Cloud State University. She previously worked as news director at KLKS Radio in Breezy Point and was a media consultant at a Twin Cities public relations firm. She also worked as a staff assistant for the former “Nashville Now” television show on The Nashville Network while attending college in Nashville. She and her husband, Nels, have three daughters, Erika, 17, Madeline, 2, and Beatrice, who was born in April 2011.