4-year-old Austin wants the world to 'show love.' His mission is beyond sweet.

When 4-year-old Austin Perine found out some people are homeless, his first instinct was to help.

One day, Austin was watching an animal show with his dad, T.J., and they saw a mom panda abandon her baby. Concerned, Austin asked what would happen to the cub. T.J. told him it would be homeless for a while, but it would eventually figure out how to live on its own.

Austin asked his dad if people ever become homeless. That question sparked a conversation about homelessness, a trip to see where homeless people live, and one of the sweetest outreach projects you'll ever see.


Good morning 🌞 I’m headed to work! “Don’t Forget to #showlove ❤️💙❤️💙

Posted by Austin Perine on Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Austin wanted to give the homeless people he saw some food. So his dad bought 25 chicken sandwiches for him to hand out.

T.J. says he originally planned just to drive Austin by the area in Birmingham where homeless people live. But Austin wanted to talk to the people there — and offer them some food. So that's what they did.

"He liked it," says T.J. "The people were touched that a 4-year-old took the time to talk to them, and despite everything they were going through, they were able to smile because Austin was out there." People thanked T.J. for teaching his son to treat people who are down on their luck with dignity.

Austin hands out chicken sandwiches and sodas to Birmingham's homeless. Photo via T.J. Perine.

Austin liked it so much, he told his parents that he wanted to use all of his allowance to buy food for the homeless. Now, thanks to an ongoing donation from Burger King, Austin takes sandwiches to his homeless friends about three times a week.

"Feeding the homeless is the highlight of my life," he told CBS News.

Austin is a tiny hero with an important message.

Adding yet another adorable layer to this story, Austin dons a red superhero cape while he delivers his meals. As he hands each person a sandwich, he smiles and tells them, "Don't forget to show love!"

T.J. said his son asked to be called "President Austin" because he thinks that feeding the homeless is what a president is supposed to do. "I was like, 'Buddy, you have no idea,'" laughed T.J. in an interview with CBS. "But hey, I'm going along with it."

"He took this initiative on like a champion," T.J. says. "He looks forward to it."

Austin's parents have encouraged compassion throughout their son's young life.

T.J. thinks Austin's generous spirit is a solid mix of innate quality and learned behavior. Austin has an older brother who has autism, and Austin has gained compassion and generosity through helping him. "We compliment him when he does well with his brother," says T.J. "Austin helps him find things, helps him with his clothes ... so circumstantially, he has gained compassion that way."

Austin and T.J. are on a mission to #ShowLove to people down on their luck. Photo via T.J. Perine.

But T.J. said the key to his parenting philosophy is listening. "If I entertain Austin's interests, then in return, Austin is going to entertain the substance of what I want to talk to him about," he says. "So if he wants to talk about 'Cars 3' or 'Paw Patrol' or whatever a 4-year-old wants to talk about, then I make sure that I give him my undivided attention."

Whatever he's doing, it appears to be working. The duo has even started a fund to help fight hunger, and they just donated $5,000 to help build a shelter with services for the homeless in Birmingham.  

Keep up the stellar parenting, T.J. And thank you for showing us all how to love, Mr. President. You've definitely got my vote.

Check out Austin's story on CBS News:

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On an old episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in July 1992, Oprah put her audience through a social experiment that puts racism in a new light. Despite being nearly two decades old, it's as relevant today as ever.

She split the audience members into two groups based on their eye color. Those with brown eyes were given preferential treatment by getting to cut the line and given refreshments while they waited to be seated. Those with blue eyes were made to put on a green collar and wait in a crowd for two hours.

Staff were instructed to be extra polite to brown-eyed people and to discriminate against blue-eyed people. Her guest for that day's show was diversity expert Jane Elliott, who helped set up the experiment and played along, explaining that brown-eyed people were smarter than blue-eyed people.

Watch the video to see how this experiment plays out.

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Young people today are facing what seems to be greater exposure to complex issues like mental health, bullying, and youth violence. As a result, teachers are required to be well-versed in far more than school curriculum to ensure students are prepared to face the world inside and outside of the classroom. Acting as more than teachers, but also mentors, counselors, and cheerleaders, they must be equipped with practical and relevant resources to help their students navigate some of the more complicated social issues – though access to such tools isn't always guaranteed.

Take Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, for example, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years, and as a teacher for seven. Entering the profession, she didn't anticipate how much influence a student's home life could affect her classroom, including "students who lived in foster homes" and "lacked parental support."

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Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience, says it can be difficult to create engaging course work that's applicable to the challenges students face. "I think that sometimes, teachers don't know where to begin. Teachers are always looking for ways to make learning in their classrooms more relevant."

So what resources do teachers turn to in an increasingly fractured world? "Joining a professional learning network that supports and challenges thinking is one of the most impactful things that a teacher can do to support their own learning," Anglemyer says.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience.

A new program for teachers that offers this network along with other resources is the WE Teachers Program, an initiative developed by Walgreens in partnership with ME to WE and Mental Health America. WE Teachers provides tools and resources, at no cost to teachers, looking for guidance around the social issues related to poverty, youth violence, mental health, bullying, and diversity and inclusion. Through online modules and trainings as well as a digital community, these resources help them address the critical issues their students face.

Jessica Mauritzen, a high school Spanish teacher, credits a network of support for providing her with new opportunities to enrich the learning experience for her students. "This past year was a year of awakening for me and through support… I realized that I was able to teach in a way that built up our community, our school, and our students, and supported them to become young leaders," she says.

With the new WE Teachers program, teachers can learn to identify the tough issues affecting their students, secure the tools needed to address them in a supportive manner, and help students become more socially-conscious, compassionate, and engaged citizens.

It's a potentially life-saving experience for students, and in turn, "a great gift for teachers," says Dr. Sanderlin.

"I wish I had the WE Teachers program when I was a teacher because it provides the online training and resources teachers need to begin to grapple with these critical social issues that plague our students every day," she adds.

In addition to the WE Teachers curriculum, the program features a WE Teachers Award to honor educators who go above and beyond in their classrooms. At least 500 teachers will be recognized and each will receive a $500 Walgreens gift card, which is the average amount teachers spend out-of-pocket on supplies annually. Teachers can be nominated or apply themselves. To learn more about the awards and how to nominate an amazing teacher, or sign up for access to the teacher resources available through WE Teachers, visit walgreens.com/metowe.

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