Mother and son ask community members to join them at North Lawrence campsite on Christmas Eve

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With dangerously cold winter weather rolling in right before the holiday, Lawrence resident Trina Tinsley and her son, Jax, want to fill the city’s campsite for unhoused community members with love and support.

They are asking people to show up in big numbers to the North Lawrence support camp this Christmas Eve to share a meal and some holiday cheer together.

“We want to be able to do Christmas carols out there [and] I just want to make sure that we can somehow — to the best of our abilities — spread a little bit of Christmas cheer to these guys,” Tinsley said. “That’s my number one goal.”

Jax, age 9, was the one who pitched the idea to his mom back in October when they first heard the city had opened the support camp, Tinsley said.

“Jax is autistic — he’s very high-functioning autistic — and he just has a love for people that you would not believe,” Tinsley said. “He just has a heart of gold, and I know I’m biased because I’m Mom, but he just has a very special heart. He said ‘Mom, why can’t we at least go fix them dinner?’”

Thus, the duo created the Jax Project and have been serving meals and hanging out with folks at the camp at 4 p.m. every Saturday since. With the help of Meg Heriford, owner of Ladybird Diner, they have been able to get ingredients to make and serve hot meals.

Contributed photo Jax Tinsley, 9, helps to split firewood at the North Lawrence campsite.
Trina and Jax Tinsley

Since this Saturday is Christmas Eve, they’re encouraging everyone to join them on their weekly visit. They’ll be serving a hot dinner to those staying at the camp, giving out gifts and resources, singing Christmas songs and spreading love, Tinsley said. Those who plan on attending are encouraged to bring donations, such as hand and feet warmers, socks, gloves, hats, blankets, hygiene products and other winter items as well as nonperishable food items.

Tinsley said she is working to obtain a nonprofit certification for the Jax Project, and she would like to avoid cash donations until then. Items are always welcome for donation.

The event is scheduled for 4 p.m. Saturday (Dec. 24) at the North Lawrence campsite, behind the parking lot of Johnny’s Tavern North, 401 N. Second St.

Volunteers with the Jax Project are continuously needed to assist with setup, serving and cleaning, Tinsley said. To learn more about the organization, visit its Facebook page. Those interested in volunteering can send a message on Facebook, or reach Tinsley by email at and by phone at 480-828-6260. 

Visit this link to learn about additional ways to support unhoused community members during the winter. Visit this link to read previous coverage of homelessness and housing issues in Lawrence.

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Maya Hodison (she/her), equity reporter, can be reached at mhodison (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com. Read more of her work for the Times here. Check out her staff bio here.

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