EL CERRITO, Calif. - If only more people celebrated birthdays like Colin Kaepernick and 10-year-old Nakayla Simmons of El Cerrito.
The former 49ers quarterback marked his 32 years by handing out food to the homeless in Oakland on Sunday, ordering up a taco truck and handing out backpacks.
That’s pretty much what the Wilson Elementary School 5th grader did, too – only 11 months earlier and certainly without the fanfare.
“She’s a really sweet kid,” her mother, Kara Simmons Hernandez said, on Monday.
As Hernandez tells it, Nakayla had wanted to do something pretty standard for her birthday, which she celebrated in January: Spend the day jumping at a trampoline party house in Concord.
But then their church, Abounding Grace in El Cerrito, had a bunch of leftover food to donate. The church asked if their family wanted the extra tomatoes, apples and lettuce to give away.
Abounding Grace in El Cerrito had a bunch of leftover food to donate. The church asked if their family wanted the extra tomatoes, apples and lettuce to give away. (Kara Simmons Hernandez)
Nakayla said she’d love to help out. But her mother told her: “You can’t. It’s your birthday this weekend.”
Nakayla answered: “I’d rather do this and give to the homeless. I wanted to help people in need."
So, mother and daughter went out to homeless camps in Berkeley, Emeryville and Oakland, handing out food until 9 p.m. that day in January. They made sure everyone had enough to eat.
"The people were so happy," Nakayla said. "Some even sang happy birthday to me."
It wasn't just the unsheltered people who were thrilled.
“We got home so late,” Hernandez said. “She was so happy. You could see it in her face.”
As a reward, her mother said her family threw her a little party the next day anyway.
“She deserved it,” her mother said.
As a reward, her mother said her family threw her a little party the next day anyway. “She deserved it,” her mother said.