North Adams autistic boy is generous to the needyBy EDWARD DAMON , Associated Press
Jan. 5, 2014 12:06 AM ET
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. (AP) — Nine-year-old Andrew Daniels can tell you anything about the U.S. presidents and has a wide collection of suits. His motto?
"Never give up. No matter what."
Andrew who lives with his grandparents, Marcia and Mark Brown, has autism. The third grader, who attends Sullivan Elementary School, has overcome many obstacles, they say.
"Teachers are amazed," Marcia Brown said. "He's missed one day of school because he was sick. He's getting As and Bs."
Mark Brown explained he wants to give Andrew a wider view of the world through trips across country. The two set a goal to raise $500 to various organizations and charities at the beginning of the year.
"We want to teach him to be the best he can in the community and to be an active participant," Mark Brown said. "If everyone did a little more, the community would be a better place."
They exceeded that goal, donating close to $800. Much of that went to Cub Scouts Troops 35 and 38.
Andrew has also donated $30.50 to the Friendship Center Food Pantry and $30 to the Salvation Army, and bought lunch for local police, fire and ambulance workers. He is also active in the First Baptist Church of North Adams.
Mark Brown remembers watching news coverage of the earthquake that devastated Haiti in 2010. He wanted to test where Andrew's heart was, he said.
He gave Andrew a choice — to use $50 he had saved to buy coins for his coin collection, or send the $50 to the earthquake relief efforts. Andrew chose the Haiti.
"All he kept saying was, 'Food and medicine, food and medicine,'" Mark said. "I said, they're taking calls right now, and asked him if he wanted to call. He was a little scared, but he talked on the phone and sent his $50."
A bookcase in the corner of the family's living room holds 22 photo albums, containing photos from trips to all of the state's he's visited. Ten are from his two years in the Cub Scouts.
One album documents the family's trip to San Francisco, Calif., in 2011, where Andrew witnessed the city's homeless problem.
"He got really scared when he saw someone lying on the ground," Marcia Brown said.
Andrew took out his wallet, they said, and handed dollar bills to any homeless person he saw. He did the same thing during a trip to Washington, D.C.
"I feel sick to my stomach," Andrew said when asked how he felt seeing homeless individuals sleeping on the sidewalk.
During a recent tour of the south, the family visited Moore, Okla., which was devastated by an EF5 tornado in May. Twenty-four people, including seven children, were killed.
Andrew donated $20 of his own money to relief efforts, Mark Brown said, and learned about the devastation from relief workers and ministries. He also paid his respects.
"He just stood there in all that devastation, and saluted people," Mark Brown said.
Andrew has also been able to have fun on his travels. His favorite state is California, he said, and was excited to sleep in a room at the Murphy Hotel, where President Ulysses S. Grant once stayed.