He operates his own charitable organization, helps coordinate citywide events, and has a stack of business cards ready for those who want to work with him in the future.
His name is Jonas Corona and he’s the founder of Love in the Mirror, an organization striving to inspire youngsters to make a difference by donating hygiene items, food and clothing to the local homeless population. Jonas’s mission proves that a person’s age has nothing to do with how much he or she can give back or the (figurative) size of their heart — he’s a 6-year-old first grader at New City School in Long Beach.
At 11 a.m. Saturday, May 1, Jonas will be one of the speakers at an event to kick off a month-long drive to collect personal hygiene items for homeless children in Long Beach at Dana Library, 3680 Atlantic Ave. Donations will be accepted at nine Long Beach Public Library branches until May 31.
“It’s good for us all to be equal,” Jonas said to explain why he has been organizing donation drives since November 2009.
“Homeless people and (homeless) kids are just like us and need to have the same things we have every day. You could donate lots of things — anything helps.”
Renee Corona, Jonas’s mother, said she began taking Jonas to feed homeless people in Downtown Los Angeles when he turned 5 years old. Once a month, Jonas would pass out punch and hot chocolate or give people clothes.
“One of the times (Jonas) went to feed the homeless, there was a group of five kids who walked up,” Corona said. “It looked like a couple of the kids were older and taking care of the younger ones. He was shocked and confused and asked me what they were doing there.”
Corona said she was honest with Jonas. She explained that the economy was bad, people were losing their jobs and making less money, and some were forced to leave their homes.
Corona recalled telling Jonas that people also can become homeless because they are in abusive relationships or get sick and can’t afford to pay medical expenses.
“I tried to explain to him that not everybody is the same, with a big family and lots of friends and a house like he has,” Corona said. “So Jonas wanted to go more often than once a month. But I tried to tell him that people usually don’t have enough time or money to do (donation drives and serving food) more often.”
Jonas asked his mother to help him start a Web site, www.loveinthemirror.org, and he wrote a mission statement that is posted on the site. He started a fan page on Facebook and had business cards made.
To date, Jonas has partnered with his school to organize a clothing, book and toy drive, with four truckloads of donations benefitting the Long Beach Rescue Mission (LBRM); a sock drive for homeless children for Valentine’s Day; and on his own, he made an Easter basket for children at Precious Lamb Preschool, a school for homeless children. Jonas spoke last month at Cantwell Sacred Heart of Mary High School in Montebello and inspired high school students to do a toiletry drive for His Nesting Place.
“Usually when he wants to do (a donation drive), he’ll ask me to make some calls,” Corona said. “But for the library drive, he went to (Dana Neighborhood Children’s Librarian) Jennifer Songster and asked for her help. He gave her one of his business cards all on his own.”
Jonas, who designed his organization’s logo — a hand-drawn heart — said the name “Love in the Mirror” comes from his belief that children should be able to look in the mirror and love themselves.
“I’m always thinking about my organization and what we can do next,” Jonas said. “I want to be a nonprofit director when I’m older and do this for the rest of my life.”
The May drive will benefit local organizations including LBRM, Precious Lamb Preschool, His Nesting Place and Children Today.
For a list of libraries accepting donations, visit www.facebook.com and search for “Love in the Mirror” or call 570-1042.