Three young siblings started a candle company to pay for video games. Now they're giving back to help the homeless.
Instagram / Frères Branchiaux Candle Co.

Three young Maryland brothers who started a candle company to buy new toys now donate $500 a month from their successful business to help the homeless.

Collin, 13, Ryan, 11, and Austin, 8, Gill founded "Frères Branchiaux," which is French for Gill Brothers, after their mom told them they could either get a job or start a business if they wanted more video games and Nerf guns.

"They surprised me when they started a business and they started selling at their baseball and football games and they've moved on to a vending truck," Celena Gill told Good Morning America.

The three of them have been making the candles in their Indian Head home for the last two years and business is booming, with 36 stores carrying the boys' products and a deal with Macy's in the works. They sell nearly 400 candles a month, priced from $18 to $36, along with other products like diffuser oils, room sprays, soap, bath bombs and salts, according to the Washington Post.



Ryan is considered the "scent-ologist" of the group and helps create the scents, like Lavender Crush, Lime Cotton, and Whiskey Sweet.

"I usually pick the most scents I like and then I'll mix them together and ask my family members if they like it or not and then we'll make it into a candle," he told GMA.

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So why candles?

"Me and my brothers asked my mom, 'What's your favorite thing to buy?' At first she said bath bombs, which are kind of a longer process, so we did candles, which was easier," Collin said.

Besides being able to buy their own toys, the business has also allowed the brothers to make an impact in their community.

"My brother Ryan has a big heart," Collin told GMA. "He likes to help homeless people out; in D.C. there is a lot of homelessness, so every time we would stop by and see a homeless person he would ask my mom to give them money."

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From the start, Frères Branchiaux has given 10 percent of its monthly proceeds to Washington, D.C.-area homeless shelters, including Pathways to Housing D.C., Friendship Place and the Father McKenna Center, according to the Post.

"Every time I saw a homeless person, I was always asking Mom if we could give money to them, and this was a way to do it," Ryan said.

Collin appreciates feeling like the business has a greater purpose aside from making money.

"The community helps us, so we have to help back. Giving back helps you and the people you're giving back to," he said.

They're hoping to take their philanthropic efforts one step further by working directly with homeless people.

"We have a big community and we also want to do job creation," Celena said. "Right now we're working with one of the organizations to hire some of their clients transitioning from homelessness."

The brothers are now planning an expansion of the business and are saving up for a "candle truck" along with a facility to make the candles out of.

Courtesy of Verizon
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If someone were to say "video games" to you, what are the first words that come to mind? Whatever words you thought of (fun, exciting, etc.), we're willing to guess "healthy" or "mental health tool" didn't pop into your mind.

And yet… it turns out they are. Especially for Veterans.

How? Well, for one thing, video games — and virtual reality more generally — are also more accessible and less stigmatized to veterans than mental health treatment. In fact, some psychiatrists are using virtual reality systems for this reason to treat PTSD.

Secondly, video games allow people to socialize in new ways with people who share common interests and goals. And for Veterans, many of whom leave the military feeling isolated or lonely after they lose the daily camaraderie of their regiment, that socialization is critical to their mental health. It gives them a virtual group of friends to talk with, connect to, and relate to through shared goals and interests.

In addition, according to a 2018 study, since many video games simulate real-life situations they encountered during their service, it makes socialization easier since they can relate to and find common ground with other gamers while playing.

This can help ease symptoms of depression, anxiety, and even PTSD in Veterans, which affects 20% of the Veterans who have served since 9/11.

Watch here as Verizon dives into the stories of three Veteran gamers to learn how video games helped them build community, deal with trauma and have some fun.

Band of Gamers www.youtube.com

Video games have been especially beneficial to Veterans since the beginning of the pandemic when all of us — Veterans included — have been even more isolated than ever before.

And that's why Verizon launched a challenge last year, which saw $30,000 donated to four military charities.

And this year, they're going even bigger by launching a new World of Warships charity tournament in partnership with Wargaming and Wounded Warrior Project called "Verizon Warrior Series." During the tournament, gamers will be able to interact with the game's iconic ships in new and exciting ways, all while giving back.

Together with these nonprofits, the tournament will welcome teams all across the nation in order to raise money for military charities helping Veterans in need. There will be a $100,000 prize pool donated to these charities, as well as donation drives for injured Veterans at every match during the tournament to raise extra funds.

Verizon is also providing special discounts to Those Who Serve communities, including military and first responders, and they're offering a $75 in-game content military promo for World of Warships.

Tournament finals are scheduled for August 8, so be sure to tune in to the tournament and donate if you can in order to give back to Veterans in need.

Courtesy of Verizon

Ready for the weekend? Of course, you are. Here's our weekly dose of good vibes to help you shed the stresses of the workweek and put yourself in a great frame of mind.

These 10 stories made us happy this week because they feature amazing creativity, generosity, and one super-cute fish.

1. Diver befriends a fish with the cutest smile

Hawaiian underwater photographer Yuki Nakano befriended a friendly porcupine fish and now they hang out regularly.

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