Lifestyle & Human Interest

After Plan To Earn Toy Money Turns into Huge Success, Brothers Donate Hundreds to the Homeless


The Gill brothers hail from Indian Head, Maryland, and are inspiring young and old alike with their example of creativity and entrepreneurial spirit.

It all began in October 2017 when Collin (13), Ryan (11) and Austin (8) approached their parents about getting a raise in allowance so that they could purchase more toys and video games.

The brothers had maxed out their toy allowance, so their parents told them to “get a job or start a business” if they wanted to raise more money.

They decided to start a business, and at their mother Celena’s suggestion, they decided to start a candle company. According to Inside Edition, the boys all speak varying levels of French, so they decided to name their fledgling enterprise “Frères Branchiaux,” which means “Gill Brothers” in French.

“Mama Gill attended a candle-making workshop and then taught the brothers,” the brothers’ website says.

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The candle company quickly became a smashing success, but the boys’ hearts demonstrated that they knew that there was more to this than just toy money.

“The community helps us, so we have to help back,” Ryan told The Washington Post. “Giving back helps you and the people you’re giving back to.”

The 11-year-old was the first to come up with the idea to give to the local homeless shelters.

“Every time I saw a homeless person, I was always asking Mom if we could give money to them, and this was a way to do it,” he said.

Almost two years later, Frères Branchiaux has sold over 10,000 candles and the brothers now donate 10% of their earnings to Washington area homeless shelters, reports Inside Edition. Their mother says that comes out to about $500 a month.

A total of 36 stores carry the boys’ products, and The Washington Post even reports that a contract with Macy’s is in the works. In addition to candles, the company also produces diffuser oils, room sprays, soaps and bath supplies — all made at the Gill’s Indian Head home.

The larger the company grows, the more involved the Gill brothers hope to be in their community. While they have been sending monthly checks to the local shelters, Collin, Ryan and Austin will visit Pathways to Housing D.C. in August, and hope to return every couple of months to volunteer in person.

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They also have a dream of opening a shop in the future and hiring homeless people as employees.

This dream might just be close to reality, based on how much attention Frères Branchiaux is receiving. On July 24 they appeared on Good Morning America, and were recently awarded a “Hometown Heroes” plaque by WGTS Radio, one of the boys’ favorite local stations.

What’s next on the boys’ agenda? They want to purchase a candle truck.

“We want to be the first kid candle truck in the nation,” they said in a post on their website.

The sky truly is the limit when you are inventive and compassionate, and the Gill family is learning this firsthand.

“I’m just really proud of what they’ve done,” Celena told Inside Edition. “We’ve have gone from just a small side hobby to a full-blown family business.”

The three brothers got back to The Western Journal with some advice of their own for others who have a heart for helping the homeless.

“Find local organizations and see how you can fit in to help,” Collin said.

“You can give people (who work in organizations that help the homeless) money to help homeless people,” Austin suggested.

“Just help in any way that you can — especially if you can’t give money,” Ryan said.

If you are interested in purchasing candles or supporting the Gills’ community endeavors, visit their website or Facebook page for more information on their products and future plans.

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