Recently, while sitting in Mocha Joe’s, Darrius Mitchell, a junior exercise science major and AU football player, was surprised by a television camera and news crew. The reason? He had been selected for recognition by WISH-TV’s Wish Patrol for his generosity in the homeless community in downtown Indianapolis.
WISH-TV’s Brooke Martin led Mitchell outside from the coffee shop, a crew of students following behind, to the Fine Arts parking lot. There, representatives from Coca Cola and the Kroger Corporation awaited to honor the student for his good deeds.
Mitchell said that a few summers ago he was cutting the grass at his home when he thought that if he was hot, surely the homeless were, too.
“I put waters in the freezer until they froze, loaded them in a cooler and left to hand them to the homeless people downtown,” he said. For the rest of the summer, he continued handing out water bottles.
During the winter, he said that he “handed out hand warmers, gloves and hats,” too.
When asked what had inspired him, he said, “I watch my mom.”
Mitchell’s mom told WISH-TV, “I tell my son, ‘Meet people where they are. Put God first, keep a good heart and watch what God will do.’”
When Mitchell first began helping the homeless, his mother was surprised to find him hauling waters to the freezer after mowing the lawn. She asked him what he was doing, and he replied, “I decided to give waters to the homeless.”
He used his own pocket money to buy the water and soon added in granola bars.
In the Fine Arts parking lot, Mitchell was met by a large Coke truck, a company polar bear mascot and a crowd of supporters. Inside the truck were pallets of water and hygiene packs—including deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrushes, hand warmers and hand sanitizer—to help him continue his service.
There was another surprise from Coca Cola: a TY Hilton jersey, four tickets to a Colts game and field passes. The Kroger Corporation also joined in the giving by handing Mitchell a check for $5,000.
Provost Dr. Marie Morris told Mitchell, “We are so proud of you. Our values here are excellence, integrity, servant leadership, responsibility and generosity. You’re all that.”
Others, including his mother, pastor and CRC director Michael Thigpen, also joined Mitchell for the surprise.
Two years ago, Mitchell lost his father to cancer. In his final moments, he told his son, “Don’t use my death as an excuse to get off course.”
Mitchell took those words and applied them to his life. Instead of just working on himself, he is working toward a better community.
Mitchell’s advice for others: “Give from your heart. Don’t expect anything in return. This is the thing to do and should be something instilled in everybody—giving back to the community.”
Eventually, he hopes to have his own foundation to further assist people.
Until then, he said, “I’m just doing things from the heart.”