Brothers start candle business to earn money for toys, now they donate $500 a month to the homeless
Children are limitless in spirit. They are naturally empathetic and caring too. So when three young brothers decided they wanted money for more toys, their plan also steered them in the direction of giving back as well – naturally.
After their parents refused to fork over the funds for new video games and toys, the three siblings — Collin, 13, Ryan, 11, and Austin, 8 — came up with a solution: Start a business. And after racking their brains, they asked their mom, Celena Gill, what her favorite thing to buy was.
She answered “candles,” and a business was born. Almost two years later, the boys’ candle-making shop — called “Frères Branchiaux,” French for “Gill Brothers,” and run out of the Gills’ home in Indian Head, Md. — is successful beyond anything they expected. With 36 stores selling their products and a contract with Macy’s in the works, the boys have cash for all the Nerf guns and games they desire.
But instead of spending loosely on toys, the boys say they feel a responsibility to give back to their community. From the beginning, the brothers have donated 10 percent of their profits to Washington-area homeless shelters, including Pathways to Housing D.C., Friendship Place and the Father McKenna Center. It was Ryan’s idea, something he proposed after passing a homeless man on the street.
“Every time I saw a homeless person, I was always asking Mom if we could give money to them, and this was a way to do it,” he said.
Collin said it makes him feel like the business has a purpose beyond commerce and candle scents.
“The community helps us, so we have to help back,” he said. “Giving back helps you and the people you’re giving back to.”
The Gills send monthly checks to shelters and have met some of Pathways’ employees. But the brothers want to be more hands-on: They will visit Pathways in August and plan to return every two months to spend time with the people at the shelter.
As soon as the trio can find the funds and the space, they hope to open a shop and hire homeless people as employees.
In the meantime, though, they have a lot of candles to make and a lot of smiles to generate.
Source The Washington Post