TheGrio’s 100: Joshua Williams, pint-sized philanthropist shares big heart

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At the age of 5, philanthropist Joshua Williams decided to stomp out hunger in the Miami region — “so that all children would be as full as I am.” Since launching the Joshua’s Heart Foundation, this young heart’s mission has fed more than 7,000 people, raised more than $80,000, and distributed more than 250,000 pounds of food – all before its founder turned 10.

Joshua Williams is making history … by dreaming big and taking early action in the fight against hunger. The idea for Joshua’s Heart was sparked when Williams saw malnourished youngsters on a sponsor-a-child TV ad, and discovered he could only sponsor one. He sought the assistance of his mother, Claudia McLean, but neither knew how to begin building a foundation until, coincidentally, a radio show spelled out the steps.

Four years later, Joshua’s Heart distributes food at a different community church each month, and has procured sponsorship from groups like the Daily Bread Food Bank and Costco. Williams also fosters the giving spirit in his fellow pre-teens through “Joshua’s Elves,” a team of child volunteers that help raise funds and distribute food to poverty-stricken Miami residents. With these eager elves helping the hungry, Joshua’s Heart will continue to be full of success.

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What’s next for Joshua?

Although his foundation feeds more than 400 families a month, Williams is not stopping there; he plans to extend his foundation beyond Miami Beach — to tackle world hunger. “I want to get a team together,” says Williams. “I want my team to go out and give food to people who have a need for food. I want to stretch it all the way to countries in Africa.”

In his own words …

“We try to help people who are low-income and we try to end world hunger,” says the young philanthropist on his website.

A favorite quote …

“Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

A little-known fact …

In 2010, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations estimated that a total of 925 million people were undernourished in the world, compared with 1.023 billion in 2009.

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