8-year-old boy spends birthday in uptown handing out pizza to homeless in ‘tent city’

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A young boy decided he wanted to spend his birthday Saturday handing out dozens of pizzas to homeless people living in “tent city” in uptown.

It was Kieng Rivens’ 8th birthday and this year he had a simple request that took his mother by surprise.

“I said what do you want to do for your birthday? He said, ‘I want to feed the homeless.’ I had tears in my eyes,” Antiqua Ramsey said.

She said they have fed people who live in Charlotte’s “tent city” before, but she didn’t think it would be her son’s only birthday wish.

Ramsey said she started approaching several pizza places to see if she could get a discount on buying 100 pizzas, and one called her back.

“He donated 75 pizzas. Not only did he donate them, he brought them down here to meet us and they brought his staff, as well,” she said.

On Saturday morning, Gage Lock and his staff from the Papa John’s location on Statesville Road showed up with boxes of pizza, presents and helping hands.

“That made me want to do it so much more, knowing it was a 7-year-old kid, and all he wanted for his birthday was to give back to the community,” Lock, the manager at Papa John’s, said. “Most kids want video games, toys, bikes, all of that -- and he just wanted to give back.”

Friends and family put on their masks and joined Kieng to pass out slices and kindness.

“I was thinking of something everybody likes, and everybody likes pizza,” Kieng said.

On a day when he might be unwrapping his own presents, Kieng chose to be a gift to others.

“I want to get something for them because I have something for me,” he said.