12-year-old makes and donates bow ties to help shelter animals find their forever homes

Young entrepreneur Darius Brown is on a mission to find homes for shelter animals, and he's doing it with style—literally. The 12-year-old makes bow ties for dogs and cats in the hopes that it will help more of them find homes.

Many people find it hard to resist a puppy. But a puppy with a bowtie? That's just not even fair.

Brown, who goes by Sir Darius Brown on social media, wears a bow tie himself most of the time. "Literally everywhere I go, I wear a bow tie" he says.

It all started when he was eight and his older sister started making hair bows in cosmetology school. Brown had been diagnosed at age two with comprehension, speech, and fine motor skills delays, and helping out with his sister's sewing projects seemed to help him.


"With his fine motor skills, he wasn't able to really use his hands well—tying a shoe was challenging," his sister told the Today Show. "My mother and I came up with the idea that if he helped us with things like prepping the ribbon or cutting it, and sewing fabric together, it would help him. And it did—it worked!"

Brown started making his own bow ties to wear, and eventually his love of animals led him to make them for his furry friends also. He has now donated hundreds of ties to animal shelters all over the country.

"It helps the dog look noticeable, very attractive," Brown told Today. "It helps them find a forever, loving home…I love everything about dogs and cats."

Seriously, though. So. Not. Fair.

Brown has created his own organization called Beaux and Paws, and he's begun fundraising to be able to provide more ties. He's also received donations of fabric and supplies from people who support his mission. "The donations help a lot because we were just digging in our pockets, buying the fabric ourselves," his mother told Today.

The preteen's work hasn't gone unnoticed. Former President Barack Obama even sent him a letter of praise last year.

"Dear Darius," Obama's letter reads. "After hearing your story, I wanted to reach out to commend you for your commitment to community service. From founding Beaux and Paws to lifting up the lives of those around you, it's clear you are doing your part to look out for your fellow citizens. And I trust you take tremendous pride in all you have accomplished.

As long as you stay engaged in the world around you, continue looking for ways to help others, and never give up on yourself, I'm confident our future will be bright. Know that I'm rooting for you in all you do, and I wish you the very best."

Well done, Sir Darius! Keep up the inspiring work.

True

If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.