Valrico resident Kimberly Wood is turning the loss of her son into a mission to help others. Wood recently started Brandyn’s Angels, a group dedicated to helping the homeless in Tampa using restitution funds given to her due to her son’s death.
Wood’s son Brandyn Preston was shot in the neck at a graduation party for his cousin in Iowa in 2011. He was 19 years old at the time and underwent treatment with his mother as his caregiver for two years until he passed away in January 2013.
Wood now receives $187 a month in restitution from the Iowa Department of Corrections on behalf of the man serving a life sentence for Preston’s death. She is using that money to buy supplies for homeless people in the Tampa area.
“The idea for Brandyn’s Angels came from the short life my son lived,” said Wood. “He was always lending a helping hand to those less fortunate without looking for anything in return.”
Preston, who attended East Bay and Robinson high schools while living in Florida, played basketball and worked hard in school. Wood feels confident he would want her to use the money to help the community he once enjoyed.
From November 2017 until January 2018, Wood collected blankets and provided more than 200 bags of toiletries to the homeless at Gaslight Park in downtown Tampa.
“My goal is to continue to give to the homeless throughout the whole year,” said Wood.
She is now collecting water, chapsticks, hats and other items to help people be more comfortable during the warm weather months.
“My son Brandyn was a beacon of light to many, both young and old,” said Wood. “My son believed that there was good in everybody so he basically trusted people until they gave him a reason not to.”
Wood is accepting donations for the toiletries bags and funds through PayPal. For more information, call her at 409-8374 or search for Brandyn’s Angels on Facebook.