JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Brinkley Minter, 6, sat at her family's dining room table as the Jaguars game played in the background Sunday. Friends and family stared at the TV in their Springfield home, but Brinkley never looked up.
She was deep in concentration working on an acrylic painting — one of dozens she's produced in a matter of days.
Brinkley is raising money by selling her artwork to provide kids at Jacksonville's Sulzbacher homeless shelter with Halloween costumes. It's her favorite holiday — one she loves and looks forward to each year and, following a discussion with her parents about homelessness, wants to make sure other kids with fewer resources can do the same.
"Brinkley asked us if kids without homes were still able to trick-or-treat," said her mom, Gwynne Mims Minter. "We explained that many families may not be able to afford costumes and that there are also kids out there without families to help with that sort of thing."
This year, the Florida Department of Education reported that 78,949 students across the state experienced homelessness in the 2019-20 school year. The Florida Council on Homelessness said over 1,600 families with children in Florida experienced homelessness in 2021.
In Duval County Public Schools, about 1,000 students are homeless this school year, according to a district spokeswoman.
Brinkley's parents are used to their daughter's big questions. She's a sweet-natured, sassy first grader with a lot on her mind.
Her father, JR Minter, is a social worker and her mother, a well-known local hairdresser — they're both people persons and try to explain concepts like homelessness to their young children in ways they can understand.
But what was new this time, was their daughter's actions. Within a day she asked if she could host an "art stand" — like a lemonade stand but with paintings — to raise money to buy costumes for kids in need.
Her goal was to raise enough to buy 16 costumes — she surpassed that goal within two days.
At their Hubbard Street home, a hand-painted sign with brushed letters sat in a flower pot — "The Art Sale" — welcomed supporters.
Brinkley got to work. She had painted dozens of works: some acrylic on canvas, others watercolor on paper, mostly Halloween themed with pumpkins, black cats, witches and some butterflies mixed in. Saturday alone, she spent about 12 hours cranking out pieces. She marks sold pieces with a tag.
"It's special because all kids like Halloween," Brinkley told the Times-Union.
To date, she's raised over $2,900 and the family plans to keep the momentum going through the end of the month.
"Not only will she be able to provide costumes for a very special event at Sulzbacher, but [she] is on track to make a sizable contribution to the organization," her mom said.
Every year, Sulzbacher hosts a Halloween celebration including elaborate decorations and a trick-or-treating trip for the kids around the first floor and office floors of the main Sulzbacher Village campus in Norwood. This year, Brinkley's been invited to join.
The organization's president and CEO, Cindy Funkhouser, said she's impressed by Brinkley's gesture.
"During these stressful times, it is inspiring to see a young child focusing their energy on making a difference," Funkhouser said. "Such advocacy in one of our younger volunteers is marvelous and we are proud to be a recipient of her generous spirit."
Donations to Brinkley's efforts can be made by visiting https://gofund.me/fc8ea459. Sulzbacher is also collecting trick-or-treat bags for children who receive services from the group but live off-campus (such as aftercare students). For more information, visit sulzbacherjax.org.
You can read more from this story from our partners at the Florida Times-Union.