By day, Austin Perine is a mild-mannered 4-year-old from Birmingham, Alabama. But once a week, he turns into this alter ego: a superhero set on feeding as many homeless people as possible. He likes to go by the name "President Austin."
"That's his idea of what the president is supposed to do," said TJ Perine, Austin's father. "I was like, buddy, you have no idea, but hey, I'm going along with it."
TJ says this all began when they were watching a TV show about pandas. It showed a mama panda abandoning a baby, and TJ told his son the cub was now homeless.
"He says, 'What's homeless?' I said, 'It's when you don't have a home and sometimes you don't have mom or dad around,'" said TJ.
That's when Austin asked: are people homeless?
Austin Perine has made it his mission to hand out food to those who need it
Once Austin learned some people are homeless -- and some are hungry -- he launched this caped crusade. Told his mom and dad that he wanted all his allowance and money they would spend on toys to go toward chicken sandwiches instead.
After he gives out each sandwich, he gives each person a bit of advice. "Don't forget to show love," he tells them, and most do, immediately.
Raymont Baugh says this kid gives him hope. Everyone who meets Austin leaves with hope. That's why, with any luck, someday "President Austin" won't be a superhero anymore, he'll just be a president.
I saw this gentleman, Tim, in Boston's Logan airport with the sister he'd been visiting. It appeared he was both deaf and blind, as I observed her signing into his hand for him to feel her words. When he came aboard the plane he had been assigned the middle seat of my row. The kind gentleman named Eric, who had the aisle seat, graciously gave it up for him. At this point Tim was traveling alone. The flight attendants sincerely wanted to assist him, but had no way to communicate. I watched as they didn't flinch when he reached out to touch their faces and arms. They took his hand and tried so hard to communicate with him, to no avail. He had some verbal ability, but clearly could not understand them. Eric did his best to assist him with things like opening coffee creamer and putting it in his coffee. When Tim made the attempt to stand up and feel his way to the restroom, Eric immediately got up to help him. The flight attendants were talking among themselves and someone suggested paging to see if anyone on board knew sign language. That's when this lovely young woman came into the picture. 15 years old, she learned ASL because she had dyslexia and it was the easiest foreign language for her to learn. For the rest of the flight she attended to Tim and made sure his needs were met. It was fascinating to watch as she signed one letter at a time into his hand. He was able to 'read' her signing and they carried on an animated conversation. When he asked her if she was pretty, she blushed and laughed as Eric, who had learned a few signs, communicated an enthusiastic yes to Tim. I don't know when I've ever seen so many people rally to take care of another human being. All of us in the immediate rows were laughing and smiling and enjoying his obvious delight in having someone to talk to. Huge kudos to the flight attendants of Alaska Airlines who went above and beyond to meet Tim's needs. I can't say enough about this beautiful young woman named Clara who didn't think twice about helping her fellow passenger, and Eric's instant willingness to assist as well. It was a beautiful reminder, in this time of too much awfulness, that there are still good, good people who are willing to look out for each other. #alaskaairlines
6/21/18 Addendum: This has come to the attention of Alaska Airlines and they are in touch with Clara's family, the facility where Tim lives, and Eric. I have been so touched by the response to this story. We are all starving for good news and this was just what we needed. Thanks all!