Heroes come in all shapes and sizes, but it isn’t his size that makes Austin Perine a different kind of superhero. This four-year-old has the power to feed the homeless. And his alter-ego? President Austin.
It all began while watching a show about animals with his father, TJ Perine. In the show, a mother panda abandoned its baby. Perine told his son that this made the cub homeless, which inspired a slew of questions from the bright little boy: What’s “homeless?” Are people homeless?
To help his son better understand these questions, TJ Perine took Austin to the city shelter. Upon interacting with the occupants, Austin decided he needed to do something about their plight. So, instead of buying himself a toy with his weekly $25 allowance, Austin decided he would give up his money to buy chicken sandwiches for as many homeless people as he can.
Donning an all-blue outfit with a shirt that cries “Show Love” and a red cape, Austin turns from a regular little boy into a superhero. He goes by President Austin because feeding the homeless is “his idea of what a President should do.”
All he asks in return for a sandwich and a drink is that they “Don’t forget to show love.”
Austin’s actions quickly caught the attention of people all over town. Many say the sight of President Austin alone warms them. His positive attitude and well-mannered demeanor as he battles the sweltering heat of Birmingham to feed the homeless inspires all who cross his path.
“It’s because of you that I want to be a better person,” a homeless man tells the superhero as he is handed a sandwich.
Since the news broke, Burger King has contacted Austin’s parents. The fast-food giant now donates $1,000 a month to help Austin’s cause.
But President Austin’s fight against homelessness doesn’t stop once each person leaves with a sandwich in hand. With the news now global, people all around the world contacted the Perines to ask if they could somehow donate to the cause as well. As a result, Austin’s parents set up a PayPal and GoFundMe in his name, but now the goal is more than just chicken sandwiches. The money raised will also go to building a new homeless shelter.
Randall Woodfin, Birmingham’s Mayor, met with Austin and his parents to discuss plans for a new homeless shelter. He calls Austin the “city ambassador,” and says the little boy gives him hope for the future. It was there that Austin donated $5,000 for the project, but since then, he has raised over $75,000 on his GoFundMe.
Though Austin Perine’s task seems simple, it can be hard to remember in times like these. But with his little red cape and big heart, Austin is pouring love into the world.