Three years ago, Massachusetts resident Peter Kelleher’s 33-year-old son, Travis, passed away from a drug overdose while living on the street. This tragedy inspired Kelleher to spring to action and make sure that everyone had a warm meal to eat during the wintertime. He started by distributing soup and warm clothing to those who need it—now, he even has a set of buses to help him reach even more folks.
“I had to do something,” Kelleher said. “And I came up with this brainstorm that I was going to make soup, and bring it out to the homeless.”
Kelleher’s acts of kindness started going viral when he gave an older woman his hat and gloves on a cold day. Soon, a movement called “Support the Soupman” began and people started donating to Kelleher.
Journalist Al Roker accompanied Kelleher one day to see how much the hot soup and warm clothes could help those in need.
“What does a hot cup of soup mean?” Roker asked Kelleher.
“Warmth and kindness and love,” Kelleher responded. “That’s what it means to me.”
Since beginning his Soupman project, Kelleher estimates that he’s given out more than 3,000 cups of soup and donated tens of thousands of winter clothes. He even recently started traveling with a portable shower, which enables those who are homeless to clean up and enjoy warm water.
Brockton, Massachusetts Mayor Moises Rodrigues received the keys to the portable shower in a ceremony back in October. He praised Kelleher and all that he does for the most vulnerable populations in the community.
“I’m truly honored that someone by the fact that, whatever reasons got you here, you are here now with this kind of project, to help those who need it most in the community,” Rodrigues said.
“The issue of homelessness and drug use and people getting involved with addictions in our community is not going away. Chances are it’s going to get worse. It’s also important for us to band together to work…”
Kelleher said that he’s had cities and towns in different states calling and asking him to bring his buses around to help their communities.
“It’s pretty simple, people helping people,” Kelleher said. “And it doesn’t take much to put a smile on someone’s face.”