This Dad Responded to His Son’s Requests for Extravagant Gifts in the Best Possible Way

Years of serving warm meals to homeless people in San Diego has completely changed these teens' perspective.

burrito-boyz-1Courtesy Burrito Boyz

In 2010, Alec Johnson was just 12 years old when he presented his father Michael with a Christmas list with a multitude of pricey items, including a MacBook Air, an iPad, and an iPhone. Wanting to show his son what really matters in life, Michael and his wife Mehrnaz brought Alec and his best friend Luke to to downtown San Diego, where they handed out burritos they had made in their kitchen to the homeless.

That first day in 2010 the group handed out 54 burritos. Today, they’ve given away over 132,000.

At first, Alec viewed the exercise as a punishment. But after interacting with San Diego’s homeless, Michael says that, “the boys had such a great time that they asked if they could do it again.”

The project quickly grew bigger, with more and more of Alec’s friends expressing interest and getting involved. The group of boys involved in making and distributing burritos quickly grew to seven, and the gang became known as the Burrito Boyz. The network of volunteers has grown even further over the years, and about 600 people have been involved with the organization at one time or another.

burrito-boyz-2Courtesy Burrito Boyz

Over the years, the boys have learned a lot not only about themselves but the people they’re helping to feed as well. One volunteer told People that taking part in the project has changed his perception of those less fortunate. “I feel like homeless people get stereotyped as having a lot of problems, but when you go our there you see they’re just people who have had a hard turn of luck.”

On Sundays, Michael’s day begins as early as 4:30 a.m., when he heads to a local restaurant kitchen to begin preparing ingredients that will soon be used to make over 600 burritos. As the morning wears on, more and more people, including kids, teens, and adults, filter in lend their services. The volunteers form an assembly line to divvy up tasks and quickly create these warm meals.

Once the burritos are all made around 8:30, the volunteers pack up and drive to two different distribution locations in downtown San Diego. In addition to handing out burritos, the group gives out drinks and toiletries, and provides information about local programs and resources for those in need.

“Our goal is to get people off the streets,” says Michael. “But until they are we want to provide them with a little nutrition, a little hope and a little dignity.”

burrito-boyz-3Courtesy Burrito Boyz

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Originally Published in Reader's Digest