Thirteen-year-old Braeden Mannering not only met Michelle Obama an impressive three times, he also made her cry.
This kid, who has made it his mission to fight hunger, has nailed the act of community service in spades. The 7th grader from Bear, DE, is doing his part, one Brown Bag at a time, to make a positive change in his community. Brae is the CEO of his own nonprofit organization, 3B Brae’s Brown Bags, which has benefitted over 9,250 lives to date.
3B Brae’s Brown Bags helps get healthy snacks to the homeless and the needy. But it takes lots of time and coordination, and Brae now also counts on donations by schoolmates and others who read his blog because the charity has gotten so big.
And this year Brae is one of this year’s LEAD360 Challenge finalists sponsored by the Jefferson Awards Foundation. LEAD360 asked young people across the country to submit their BIG ideas to solve the issues they are most passionate about. Brae, who is one of the top five finalists, is hoping thousands of Delawareans will cast their vote for him in his quest to become the national winner. Voting ends at Midnight on February 14th.
Brae first met Michelle Obama at the age of nine, when he won the nationwide 2013 Healthy Lunchtime Challenge hosted by Epicurious and the White House.
As if that trip to Washington wasn’t awesome enough, the next year Michelle Obama invited Brae back to the White House to introduce her at the 2014 Kids’ State Dinner. “Meeting Michelle Obama so many times was really incredible,” he told TSD. “I was really happy when she recognized me.”
It was at Brae’s first visit to the White House when Michelle Obama congratulated Brae and challenged him and other state winners to “pay it forward” and do something more with their food and nutrition ideas. After his visit to the White House, Brae spotted several homeless people at Union Station in Washington where they boarded their train home. That’s where Brae came up with the idea of giving food to the homeless.
His idea first started with a handful of brown bags filled with bottle of water, a hat or gloves, and a few healthy snacks like granola bars, fruit snacks and Goldfish. Tucked inside is a personal note from Brae and a sheet that Brae and his mom developed with contact information for emergency shelters and service organizations that can help the needy. They always keep a stash of Brown Bags in their car and distribute whenever they encounter someone homeless.
“It makes me feel really happy that I can inspire other people to help in their communities or help in general,” said Brae. Brae doesn’t just offer Brown Bags to individuals, he brings them to soup kitchens and other emergency relief centers. “When there’s a Code Purple, my mom and I make sure we are out giving away Brown Bags,” he said. And in Bear, several homeless individuals are now well acquainted with Brae and are always grateful the middle schooler remembers them with a smile and a 3B Brae’s Brown Bag.
So just how did Brae make Michelle Obama cry? Brae was asked to introduce the former First Lady at the 2014 Kids’ State Dinner, and his remarks made Obama reach for the Kleenex. “I would like to thank Michelle Obama for being so nice and so cool last year… And I would like to thank Michelle Obama for being the leader she is and inspiring me to do all that I have been able to do with 3B,” he said.
Brae was then invited to be a guest of Michelle Obama’s at the President’s final State of the Union address in January 2016.
He has already received numerous awards and scholarships, including the National Liberty Museum Young Hero Award, Disney Friends for Change Award, the Disney Hero for Change Award, Stephen J. Brady Stop Hunger Scholarship, Kohls Cares Regional Winner in 2014, Kohls Cares National Winner in 2015, Sodexo Foundation Youth Project Sustainabiliy Grant Recipient, and he was named the Mazda Drive for Good National Winner.
All of this attention has only made him more proud of his efforts and eager to work a little harder. “We’ve come a long way since I started Brae’s Brown Bags three years ago,” said Brae. “Homeless people can’t get healthy food, so I’m glad I decided to do something about it.”