9-Year-Old Idaho Girl Sells Cupcakes to Buy Food and Clothes for the Homeless

BentLee Martinez has always had a big heart, her mother says.

The story of 9-year-old BentLee Martinez's cupcake stand began on a June night, just after school let out for the summer.

She was returning from a fishing trip in Idaho with her family. It was dark as they drove through a deserted stretch of downtown Boise, and came upon a two-block stretch of human suffering.

There was a homeless mother feeding her child with garbage she had pulled out of a dumpster. There were people in wheelchairs. An elderly couple was lying in the middle of an alley. She had a broken leg. He had a broken hip.

Mom Stephanie Ford stopped the car and got out. She and her children walked among the detritus, asking questions.

"What do you think we should do?" she asked her children.

"Let's go to McDonald's and get them food," came their reply.

So they went, and bought 50 cheeseburgers. They came back and passed them out. That got BentLee thinking about what she could do. She had dreamed of setting up a cupcake stand to raise enough money to pay for a family vacation to Disney World.

She put that wish aside, instead deciding to sell cupcakes and raise money to help the homeless, she told her mother.

In two months, she has raised $800. Every week, she and her mother go shopping for toiletries, bottled water, clothing and juice boxes — anything that might make living on the street just a bit easier.

Mint chip is one of BentLee's more colorful recipes. - Stephanie Ford

"She's amazing," Ford told InsideEdition.com. "She's always had a very big heart. I've always raised my kids to be humble and helpful."

To BentLee, it was simply a matter of searching for a solution to a heartbreaking situation.

"I decided I was going to use my money on them because it was really sad, seeing them all just sit out there," the girl said.

As word spread of her cupcake stand, people arrived from far away places, saying they had planned their summer vacations so they could patronize her business. BentLee finds this all a little unnerving and gets shy around all the attention.

But she has recruited her four siblings, her cousins and other relatives to help. People have donated sugar and flour. She and her mother scour Pinterest for out-of-the-ordinary recipes to test drive in the family's kitchen. 

On Wednesday, BentLee was selling pina colada cupcakes topped with pineapple, and Snickers-flavored baked treats. She charges $2.50 for each concoction, or $4 for eight.

BrentLee strives to make her treats look appealing and bakes all of them herself, with an assist from mom. - Stephanie Ford

Ford, whose family recently moved to Boise, has done her share to help, as well. She contacted local social workers, and told them about the elderly couple living in the alley. After meeting them, Ford said, "I just got in the car and cried." The only thing the injured man and woman asked for was a blanket.

But now they have a roof over their heads, thanks to Ford and the social workers. They're doing much better. 

"A person is a person, no matter what," she said. And her daughter is acutely aware of that.

"I am pretty proud of her," Ford said. "She is definitely an inspiration ... It's really weird to say, but she's only 9 years old and she's my role model."

BentLee has a fundraising page on Facebook. Click here to check it out.