Thursday, Nov. 22, 2012 | 2 a.m.
Five years ago Blaze Trumble made a birthday wish that baffled his parents. He decided he wanted to spend his sixth birthday distributing hot chocolate to the homeless.
His mom thought it was a joke. Surely he’d want to have a party like most kids, maybe with a theme, she thought. She asked him again, but Blaze persisted. He had seen the homeless in downtown Las Vegas during trips to pick his mom up from work, and they were honest with him about the life they lived.
He wanted to help, but hot chocolate wasn’t the answer.
“I wanted to do hot chocolate, but we couldn’t. So we decided to do blankets and jackets because it starts to get cold outside (in November),” said Blaze, whose birthday is on Nov. 25.
His parents helped him set up donation boxes at various stores to collect blankets, and they worked with the Las Vegas Rescue Mission to distribute them. Every year since, Blaze has sacrificed birthday gifts and money for donations, and distributed them around Thanksgiving.
“I wanted to do this because some people don’t have what I have,” Blaze said.
Blaze’s mother, Fannie Trumble, said she initially thought the donations would become an afterthought, but every November, he has asked to do it again. He even asked friends invited to his birthday party for donations in lieu of gifts. This year they plan to apply for a nonprofit license after Blaze said he wanted to do the donations forever.
“It’s been an eye-opener for all of us,” said Fannie Trumble. “Everybody does their part to donate, but to get involved year after year has been amazing for us.”
Fannie estimates they have donated at least 3,000 blankets and jackets in the past five years. Blaze has met celebrity Holly Madison and a squad of UNLV cheerleaders, who have come out to help him in past years.
Las Vegas Rescue Mission director of development John Fogal said Blaze’s actions have inspired the staff and other people to take extra steps to help the homeless.
“Anytime a young man … does this, it makes everyone stop and think, ‘I can do this too,’” Fogal said. “It is fun to hear other people get inspired by it.”
This year Blaze collected more than 700 blankets and jackets from the donation boxes spread throughout stores in Boulder City. With the help of his parents and older brother, he organized the jackets and blankets on a row of 10 picnic tables in the homeless shelter parking lot to distribute on Wednesday.
Waves of homeless men and women came to pick up the offerings. Some came in wheelchairs; others with weatherworn faces and ragged clothing. They laughed and joked with each other, thankful for the extra layers of warmth to shield them from the brisk desert nights spent on the streets.
“Find everything you’re looking for?” Blaze asked each one as they shuffled down the line.
At one point, a homeless man in a wheelchair approached Blaze to express his gratitude.
“Thank you so much from the bottom of my heart,” he said touching his heart. “What a way to pay it forward.”
Blaze beamed. He said his favorite part is “just seeing how happy they are.”
Later, Blaze and his family will have his birthday dinner inside the homeless shelter. A thanksgiving feast he considers, “better than mom’s.” Then the kitchen crew will come out to sing “Happy Birthday” to cap off the day. Another birthday wish come true.