Sitting in Sunday School class at church one morning, 9-year-old Kadin Kruse of Bettendorf was given a choice.

Would he and the other children accept a $20 gift from their teacher, along with a challenge to find a special way to use it for the benefit of the community?

Not all the children stepped up right away, but Kadin did, soon deciding to exchange the cash for postage.

He mailed letters to a wide range of family, friends and neighbors, asking them to consider donating supplies or money to help King's Harvest outreach center with plans to open a new homeless shelter for mothers with children.

Today, he and his parents, Mic and Monica Kruse, and his 7-year-old sister, Alana, will deliver a truck and trailer packed full of donations and more than $1,300 in gifts for the cause, all grown from that $20 bill over about three weeks.

They hope to make this an ongoing project.

"It's the right thing to do," Kadin, a fourth-grader at Morningstar Academy in Bettendorf, said. "It's what God would want me to do."

Many people who donated told the family they felt inspired after reading the Quad-City Times' recent series about homeless youth in the area, which happened to run as Kadin was just starting his fundraiser.

"Your stories came at a perfect time," his mother said. "We've volunteered at King's Harvest, and Kadin knew he wanted to help the homeless. But you don't even think about the kids, and that's what really hit my own kids. They asked, ‘Why don't they have a house?' It brought up all kinds of questions."

Since then, as it turns colder or storms outside, Kadin's thoughts immediately go to "those people who are sleeping outside or in their cars," his mother said.

"He's asking, ‘Do you think they're OK?'" she said. "He's very tender-hearted and always has been."

Terri Gleize, director of King's Harvest, said she is touched by Kadin's efforts to help with the shelter, which she hopes to open by the end of the month. She said the public has been incredibly generous.

The challenge came from Ted Brown, director of children's ministries at Bettendorf Christian Church. He said many of the children have done amazing things with their $20 gifts, but Kadin "went for it with everything he had."

"That is a reflection on Kadin and his family," Brown said. "But more than that, it's really an example of what I think God is waiting to do with a willing heart, whether that's in a fourth-grader's body or a senior citizen's body."

Kadin said he hopes to meet some of the people his donations will help.

"I'll probably say, ‘I hope you guys like this stuff, and I hope you find a family home soon,'" he said. "And I'll tell them that we're praying for them."



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