James and his son James helping at the Tarrant County clothing drive.

James Thompson and his son James helping at the Tarrant County clothing drive.

Aereos employees team up to help the homeless community of Tarrant County.

As winter was approaching, James Thompson, an employee with Aereos, a global aircraft solutions provider, saw a need in his community. He felt compelled to act by extending a hand to help – as he often has.

“I pass through Tarrant County on a regular basis and know that it has a large homeless community who would be adversely affected by the impending cold weather,” James said. “I wanted to do my part to ensure they were warm.”

So, James, in his continuous zeal to help others in need, started organizing a clothes drive.

Spearheading a group of Aereos coworkers along with friends and family members from all over Texas and Louisiana, James collected about 200 jackets, 147 blankets, 180 pairs of gloves and many other items, including children’s clothing, toiletries and 15 cases of water. Aereos had lined a wall in its lobby with tall boxes to collect items in anticipation of another abundant clothes drive. Shannon Durham, with EulessAero, collected a large amount of clothing from Lake Pointe Church Firewheel’s congregation. Brookhaven Country Club’s tennis facility in Farmers Branch and High Point Tennis Center in Plano also volunteered as collection points for clothing from the generous tennis community in the DFW area.

On the morning of November 9, James and his son James loaded his truck and met the team of volunteers on Lancaster Avenue at a location he selected because of the large number of persons who had congregated there and could benefit from the donations. For several hours, the team handed out warm clothing to appreciative people from all walks of life who had fallen on hard times.

“Everyone was so grateful,” James said. “They were giving us hugs and talking to us about how their day was going.”

Kenni Driver, Aereos director of marketing, said the most common phrase they heard throughout the day was, “God bless you.”

Kenni was a bit surprised when a homeless gentleman (using that term in every sense of the word) asked, “May I hug you?” After her response of ‘Sure!’ she remembers that he held on for the longest time. As he let go, he said, “Thank you!” She wondered how long it had been since he had had a hug.

Several Aereos employees brought their children to assist with handing out clothing, toiletries, snacks and water, and they said the experience was valuable for their kids.

“I wasn’t going to bring my daughter, but I asked James what he thought about it,” said Aereos marketing manager Sherry Hosier. James explained that he brings his kids to volunteer opportunities because it makes them appreciate everything they have. He said, “There are kids out there who don’t have much. We take things for granted as we get older, but it makes a big impression on kids that sticks with them. We all need to understand the diversity of the homeless community. Kids need to understand what’s going on and how we can build a better future.”

At one point during the day, the Aereos team of volunteers moved a few blocks from the original location to help more people. That is where they met Kierstan, who was providing plates of food to the homeless crowd. James and Kierstan are planning ways to work together to help more in the future.

James’ teammates praised him for his dedication to help others. They are grateful that he is passing on the philanthropic values his mother instilled in him.

“It means a lot to me to be able to give to those in need,” James said. “I came from nothing, so I know what it feels like to have nothing. Whether it’s big or small, I always give whatever I can.”

James has been organizing clothing drives since his teenage years, and he’s been organizing clothing drives and cookouts with his Aereos family for the past four years.

Tarrant County Homelessness

“You don’t realize how much you have until you see what people don’t have,” Sherry said.

With a population of more than 2 million, Tarrant County is Texas’ third-most populous county and the 15th-most populous in the United States.

According to the Fort Worth Star Telegram, almost 15,000 children are homeless in Tarrant County.

The Fort Worth Business Press compiled the following information about homelessness in the area:

On any given night, there are approximately 2,000 people living in local emergency shelters or on the street.
In 2018 there was a 0.6% increase in homelessness, as compared to a 1.8% increase in our total population.
Approximately 300 children experience homelessness every night. Nearly all have accessed emergency shelters and transitional housing programs for families.

James keeps statistics like these on his mind and in his heart.

James and the team are already planning the next outreach initiative of a barbecue cookout in the January/February timeframe. He continues to accept clothing donations because he hopes to incorporate a clothing giveaway during the event.

Kenni said, “I’m amazed at how many at our company give of themselves through community outreach, and Aereos supports the involvement.”

If you’d like to help James and the team with their outreach projects by volunteering, donating new or gently used jackets and blankets or contributing bottled water, please contact James Thompson at 817-470-6296.

Tarrant County Clothing Drive