Surprise for young philanthropist who surprises so many

Street Stories

CRANSTON, R.I. (WPRI) ─ The spirit of Christmas past inspired an unexpected birthday party for a Cranston boy who’s raised money for the homeless for years.

Noah Grebstein’s wish to help blossomed about five years ago, as he was on the way to visit his grandmother in the hospital with his mom Mindy Mosca.

“We got lost and I saw people lined up for food,” Grebstein said. “I thought ‘Why don’t these people have food? Why can’t they be warm? Why can’t they have the things we have?'”

That view into the underside of the real world, inspired him to start “Noah’s Wish.”

Since then, he’s knocked on countless doors of local businesses, asking for bare necessities for the needy.

The donations have grown over the years, with 372 coats, 860 pounds of food and $4,880 in cash collected last December for Amos House and the Rhode Island Food Bank.

But despite his indomitable Christmas spirit, Noah was a bit down as his birthday approached this week.

“He said, I’m going to turn 12 and it’s not really going to happen,” Mosca recalled. “So I was like, ‘It’s going to happen. This is a good boy here. This is going to happen.'”

Even though balloons dotted the outside of his home, Noah had no idea a loud and colorful collection of motored muscle was revving down the street.

Until he was asked to come to the front porch.

“I hear my name being called,” he said. “So I just ran over here.”

His mother admitted it was hard to keep a secret for the past few weeks.

“I think the other day, I was singing, I love a parade, out of nowhere,” Mosca said with a laugh.

And a parade it was.

“Every couple of seconds, I thought it was over,” Noah said. “I didn’t know that many people were there.”

About 50 cars in all, large and small. A Peterbilt to a go-cart driven by a neighbor, enforcing social distancing rules from Noah’s driveway.

“Six feet,” he said to Noah and his mom on the porch. “Six feet.”

All the drivers and passengers, masks and all, were more than happy to give their time to the kid from Cranston who has given so much to others.

“Everybody was saying, here’s the guy who gives to everybody,” Mosca said. “What’s it going to take to drive by in hot rods and those big trucks.”

Email Walt at with your story ideas and follow us on Twitter: @StreetStories12 and @wbuteau.

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