Former gang member collects school supplies for hundreds

Hometown Heroes

WICHITA, Kan. (NewsNation) —  A Kansas mom is using her difficult past to inspire future generations by donating school supplies for hundreds of kids.

“I made bad choices. I ran in the streets. I was a mean person. I was full of hurt, bitterness, anger. To be doing the things I do today, I just never thought I would be here,” said Renee Carrion.

Carrion is a single mother of three. She left her childhood home when she was 14 years old. She started doing drugs and became involved with gang members.

“I did enough terrorizing our neighborhoods and doing all of the bad so now to give back and do something good that’s what it’s all about. It’s about living and learning,” she said.

Carrion eventually got clean and became a Community Engagement Director at a local moving company. Now she says she is focused on helping others.

“I know what it’s like not to have. I know what it’s like to be with and to be without,” Carrion said. “The life I used to live is not who I am today.”

 She then created the “Moving Kids Forward” campaign, a back-to-school donation drive.

“I was sitting back and I was like, ‘We are movers. We move people forward,” Carrion said. “Let’s move kids forward because no matter what in this time of uncertainty it’s a tough time and so what better way to give back, bring smiles to their faces and give them some encouragement during these times.”

In a matter of weeks, Carrion was able to gather enough school supplies to fill more than 200 backpacks, plus, restaurant coupons, free haircuts, and more.

“Collaboration is important. I cannot do this alone. We cannot do this alone. This is what we do together. You hear stronger together. That is exactly what it is. We are stronger together,” she said.

Carrion hopes to provide school supplies to students and families in need. Her ultimate goal is to create some sort of normalcy for the upcoming school year.

“It’s about giving and coming together as a community,” she said. “It’s important that we go lift each other up, help each other, and encourage one another because we can all hit that bottom very quickly. I know it was a struggle for me for my years so that’s why.”

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