Giving back through burritos

(CBS News) LOS ANGELES - It began as a lesson in holiday humility: that it is better to give, than to receive. Two years later, it's now a major effort to help those that need it most -- one burrito at a time.

It's a problem many parents are dealing with this time of year. Kids who want a roomful of Christmas presents and parents who want to teach them that you can't always get what you want. For one family in California, it's a life lesson that has become a way of life.

It began with a lengthy Christmas wish list.

"I asked for an iPhone, a MacBook Air, an iPad, an iPod," said Alec Johnson, 12.

And a very frustrated dad.

"I went, 'This is too much,'" said Alec's father, Michael Johnson. "And I didn't want to raise a spoiled child."

Michael Johnson wanted to teach Alec a lesson.

"I think at that age, he took everything for granted," said Johnson. "Kids don't think about having a house, having a car, having a bed, having clothes, having food."

So Johnson made a batch of breakfast burritos, put them in the truck, and took his son and his friend Luke to see where the homeless live on the streets of San Diego.

"I was like scared, because I thought they were all like criminals and drunks and addicted to drugs," said Luke.

But what they found was something different.

"They would all be like, 'God bless you,'" said Alec. "And we were like, 'Hmm, God, bless to you, too.'"

The boys, now a group of seven, have been making burritos and taking them to the streets every Sunday morning for more than 100 weeks.

"And they haven't stopped," said one man. "Two years and four weeks. These guys are the bomb!" He added: "They haven't missed a Sunday yet. That's what's special."

Around here they are now known simply as the "Burrito Boys."

"These kids are great," said another man. "They're so faithful and diligent in their work."

And in giving, these boys have received a priceless gift: perspective.

"They have nothing," said Luke. "We ask for so much, and they ask for so little. They get just a burrito and they're so happy. And we're like wanting iPads, laptops and iPhones."

Michael Johnson said his son has changed dramatically since that first day on the street. "My son looked to me as a young man that day. He wasn't a boy. He really grew up that day."

A life lesson from father to son that keeps on giving.

  • Ben Tracy

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