COVID-19 CoverageLifestyle

It Takes a Family

Jake and Levi Blumrosen team up to feed hungry Houstonians.

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Levi and Jake Blumrosen washed cars to raise money for the Houston Food Bank. 

Two young brothers from Tanglewood spent their quarantine helping hungry Houstonians and cleaning up their neighborhood. The cars, that is.

Jake, 12, and Levi Blumrosen, 9, held a car wash back in May to raise money for the Houston Food Bank.

“We saw on the news the lines of people in their cars that needed food assistance, and I thought since we cannot go to the [Houston Food Bank] to volunteer, we can raise money to help out,” says Jake. “We had washed our neighbors’ cars before and made some money, so I thought we could have another car wash and raise money for the Food Bank. One dollar makes three meals, so [I knew] we could help feed people. I had no idea we would raise so much money. We washed cars from 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.”

The boys’ moms, attorneys Amy Blumrosen and Shari Heyen, have always volunteered in the  LGBTQ community, and both of them have served as Human Rights Campaign Gala chairs. But the family’s relationship with the Houston Food Bank started during Hurricane Harvey.

“We were stuck at home and we heard about people not having enough food, so we went to the Food Bank—it’s a very kid-friendly place to volunteer,” says Amy Blumrosen. 

Jake and his moms, Amy Blumrosen and Shari Heyen.

The family has gone back to volunteer every year since Harvey, but with COVID-19 this year, Blumrosen didn’t feel safe taking the boys there. That’s when Jake came up with the car wash idea. The moms agreed to match their car-wash profits.

They made $1,600. Amy Blumrosen says a lot of people saw the signs and just came by to donate money.

“I had no idea we would raise so much money,” says Levi. Neither did the moms, who added their $1,600 match so the boys could donate $3,200 to the Food Bank.

“We at Houston Food Bank are constantly touched by the generosity and caring spirit of Houstonians, and it is especially meaningful when you see kids taking the initiative to help others,” says Brian Greene, president and CEO of the nonprofit that has become the largest food bank in the nation. “We are living in a time of unprecedented need for food assistance, and even the simplest acts and gestures make a big impact. The donation that Jake, Levi, and their parents are making will provide 9,600 meals to those in need, at a time when they need it the most.”

Amy Blumrosen says one reason the family was so adamant about raising money right now is because so many kids who depend on school meals were going hungry during the quarantine when schools were shut down.

Houston’s food-insecure population had significant needs pre-COVID, and now with all of the school closings and job losses, the Houston Food Bank has almost doubled their distributions to meet the critical need during this pandemic. Currently, they are distributing 750,000 to one million pounds of food per day.

The car wash was part mitzvah for Jake, and Levi’s good deed was just his way of helping out. “I want to help others, and I feel proud when I help them,” says young Levi. Jake also plans to give part of his October bar mitzvah money to the Houston Food Bank. 

Jakes wants to be an aerospace engineer when he grows up, and also a weekend fishing guide.  Levi wants to be a pro snowboarder and tennis player. Both boys say one of their favorite foods is the homemade apple-cider donuts that Jake has learned to bake. 

Both brothers credit their moms with instilling the value of volunteering in them. “It is both a humbling and proud feeling,” says Shari Heyen. “Humbling because it encourages me to do more for the Houston that I love, and proud to know that our boys care deep in their Texas hearts for the health and welfare of others.”

For more information on the Houston Food Bank, visit houstonfoodbank.org.

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Marene Gustin

Marene Gustin has written about Texas culture, food, fashion, the arts, and Lone Star politics and crime for television, magazines, the web and newspapers nationwide, and worked in Houston politics for six years. Her freelance work has appeared in the Austin Chronicle, Austin-American Statesman, Houston Chronicle, Houston Press, Texas Monthly, Dance International, Dance Magazine, the Advocate, Prime Living, InTown magazine, OutSmart magazine and web sites CultureMap Houston and Austin, Eater Houston and Gayot.com, among others.

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