Heroes aren’t just legends from mythology and characters in Marvel movies.
Heroes don’t have superhuman powers, don a cape, and know how to fly.
Heroes are average people just like you and me. They have families and work and lives much the same as our own.
We all have the makings of a hero within us.
What makes a hero?
Heroes do things they don’t have to do to help people they don’t even know. They act with courage, selflessness, and integrity. Heroes go above and beyond. And they don’t do it for recognition or expectation of anything in return. They simply do it because they want to help.
We all have heroes! Who’s yours?
We all have people we look up to, those we aspire to be more like.
Our local hero: Buck Pratt
In the spirit of honoring local heroes, we want to share the story of our local hero, Buck Pratt.
I saw a Facebook event titled “Help the Homeless Prepare for Winter” in early November. After reading a couple of posts, I realized this event that was drawing so much attention all started with just one person.
Here’s how it all began, in Buck’s own words…
“It was about 9 years ago that I was standing in my basement looking around at a bunch of comforters and blankets that I hadn’t used in quite a while. There wasn’t enough room in my garbage can to throw them all away and they were in good shape still. I just didn’t have any need for them and wanted to clear some space.
A few days prior I had seen a homeless camp while driving and it just clicked that I could take the comforters and blankets to them so they wouldn’t go to waste. I asked on Facebook if any of my friends wanted to come and bring stuff too. We ended up with 3 or 4 carloads of stuff.
So we delivered what we had and quickly learned that it wasn’t anywhere near enough. We all posted on Facebook and gathered up quite a bit more and loaded it onto my company’s party bus.
It was an amazing feeling to see how thankful the people that we helped were when we loaded them up with canned food, clothes, blankets, coats, etc.
From there on it just turned into an annual event keeps growing each year. There have been a lot of people that I have had the pleasure to meet in the camps over the years and people who have been a part of helping.”
For the past 2 years, Buck and his friends have made the event public on Facebook. This year, over 7000 people were interested in the event – and many of them wanted to help out.
In fact, there were so many donations the bus was full from floor to ceiling. And the donations kept pouring in, right up until the last moment. Buck, his friends, and a few volunteers spent an entire day loading and delivering the donations. They were happy to be able to donate the overflow to local homeless shelters.
“They’re all humans and deserve a little help” – Buck Pratt
Buck is the perfect example of a hero. He’s 42 years old Union Glazier who has lived in Des Moines his entire life. He grew up on the east side of Des Moines, where he lives to this day.
Buck Pratt is a regular person selflessly doing extraordinary things for the people in our community.
I had the opportunity to ask Buck a few questions about his experiences helping out the homeless and what keeps him motivated to keep doing it each year. Here’s what he had to say.
Q: That very first time you and some friends went out to deliver your carloads of supplies to the homeless camps, what did you find?
A: Once I got back into the woods I was amazed at how much it resembled a campground. There was a dirt road that ran through the woods. On the left would be a campsite, then you walk down the road a little bit and there would be another campsite on the right. Then it just continued like that for quite a while. There were around 30 people at that camp. They were a community, they all helped each other out and seemed to be a very cohesive group.
Q: What has inspired you the most to continue doing this for so many years?
A: I know how much the people appreciate what we do and I have seen first hand what a difference it makes.
Q: What is the most challenging aspect of putting this together each year?
A: I’m usually very busy with my personal life and it gets overwhelming trying to keep up with messages and comments from people when I set up the event. I try to answer questions or reply to people when I can. One thing that gets a bit annoying is all of the useless stuff that people donate. One year I had someone donate two huge boxes of VHS tapes. I ended up giving them to a library. No matter how many times I say that we don’t need children’s clothes we always end up with a bunch of them.
Q: Do you plan to continue to do this each year? If so, what would you like to see happen in the coming years?
A: Yes, I plan on keeping it going. Next year though I think we will focus on everything besides clothes. The bulk of what we always get is clothes. There is definitely a need for clothes it just seems like we get overloaded with clothes every year.
Q: What would you like others to know about the project (and/or homelessness in our community)?
A: The worst thing that I see every year is that right when it starts getting cold out is when the city usually kicks them out of wherever they are staying. So not only do they have to adjust to the cold weather setting in, but they have to pack up, move, & try to get a decent set up put together before winter hits.
It’s a great feeling to see how happy and appreciative everyone is when we show up with a party bus packed full of stuff for them. I had them make comments like “This is just like going shopping at Target”.
I have met some pretty cool people in some of the camps that we have visited over the years.
Some are out there by choice, some just had bad luck and ended up out there because they somehow lost everything. Either way, they’re all humans and deserve a little help to improve their quality of life.
I think Buck’s words say it all. It’s not easy, but he’s motivated to continue to do it year after year. Not because he has to. But because he wants to.