Spreading the love among the unfortunate


Matt and Timothy Farias are practicing being brothers’ keepers.

Sure, they’re brothers but it goes far beyond that.

Matt, 17, now in his senior year at Kearny High School, credits his brother Timothy (KHS Class of 2015), 19, with launching an informal project to help the homeless – a project that is now poised to take flight, with the aid of social media.

It began germinating last winter, Matt said, when Timothy – while commuting to Newark each day to (college) classes (he’s a psychology major) – noticed an increasing number of homeless individuals on the streets, with many concentrated outside Penn Station.

One day, he stopped to talk to one man who told him he’d “had it all,” but then things turned sour when he lost his job, couldn’t pay his rent and got kicked out of his apartment.

With no resources and nowhere to turn, he found himself out on the streets.

For Timothy, that experience proved to be a turning point. “He wanted to make a difference,” said Matt, to give these unfortunate folks some reason not to give up on themselves.

Enlisting Matt and several friends in the cause, the group brainstormed and came up with an idea to put their good intentions into action.

“We all put in money,” Matt recalled, “and we started buying stuff that we would put in goodie bags” to distribute to those desperate souls.

They collected supplies of toothbrushes and toothpaste (furnished by students from Eastern International College in Belleville), bottles of water, snacks (pop tarts and chips), blankets, gloves and socks for winter conditions.

“These were our care packages,” Matt said.

And they called the enterprise “Got U Covered.”

So, one evening this past mid-November, Timothy, Matt and 10 helpers met in his basement to assemble 50 care packages and then set out for Brick City on a mission to provide the bags to as many street people as supplies lasted.

“We gave out all 50 bags,” Matt said. Recipients included men and women alike. No street children were seen that night, he said.

The driving force behind their enterprise, said Matt, was “to spread faith, hope and love. By doing this, Tim wants to show that there are people out there that care for them.

Matt and Ralph DeSouza, another KHS alum from Timothy’s class, filmed the expedition and posted the video on the group’s Facebook page.

The response was overwhelming, Matt said. “It just blew up. We had maybe 10,000 views.”

And, after viewing Matt’s video, Timothy said, “other community groups want to team up with us on other projects.”

Based on the widespread interest, the group decided to set up a GoFundMe account to raise money for future projects, said Matt.

That led to a winter vacation trip to Brazil, the homeland of Matt and Timothy’s dad, and a nine-hour boat ride from Parintins to an isolated, impoverished village in the Amazon.

There, at the village school, the brothers and family members, Matt’s classmate Joseph Rodrigues and about 20 local volunteers handed out 200 Got U Covered packages, each containing pencils, pencil sharpeners, erasers, little Bibles and candies.

“We also fed the children three meals that day,” Matt said.

“This past winter,” he added, “was an eye-opener for me. You don’t realize what you have until you see what some people don’t have.”

A video of that mission is being produced for viewing on the group’s Facebook page, he said.

Meanwhile, Timothy said he’s in the process of applying for not-for-profit certification for Got U Covered so that it can solicit tax-exempt donations.

“And a website is coming soon,” added Matt.

Plans are in the works for an upcoming mission focused on homeless women, specifically, in NewarkTimothy said. He’s recruiting female volunteers to help distribute packages that will include feminine sanitary products.  

For the next – or future – project, Timothy “is hoping to incorporate barbers” as part of the group to cut the hair of the homeless, Matt said. “He also wants to get a group of girls to reach out to women in need of feminine sanitary products.”

As excited as he is about this particular extracurricular activity, Matt is no slouch when it comes to everyday academics.

According to KHS Assistant Principal Paul Measso, Matt is taking Advanced Placement classes in literature and composition, government, calculus, statistics and macroeconomics, not to mention a Latin Honors class.

After graduation, Matt said he’s hoping to attend college and major in business and marketing. 

Given his track record, maybe we should expect him to be promoting and financing a big project to combat homelessness.


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