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How 1 man's son's death inspired him to help the homeless

Peter Kelleher has become a local "Souperman," known for his donations of winter clothes and homemade soup.
TODAY's own Al Roker visited Massachusetts 'Souperman' Peter Keheller to help hand out soup to those in need.
TODAY's own Al Roker visited Massachusetts 'Souperman' Peter Keheller to help hand out soup to those in need. TODAY
/ Source: TODAY

After a tragedy struck his family, Massachusetts resident Peter Kelleher decided to make sure everyone has something warm to eat during the cold winter months.

Three years ago, his 33-year-old son, Travis, passed away from a drug overdose while living on the street. Kelleher said that it stirred him to action.

"I had to do something," he said. "And I came up with this brainstorm that I was going to make soup, and bring it out to the homeless."

One day, a woman who Kelleher said "could have been (his) mother" approached him wearing no hat or gloves. Troubled by her plight, he gave her his own hat and gloves in a simple act that quickly went viral. Soon, a movement called "Support the Soupman" was born, and people started donating to Kelleher.

Keheller's son, Travis, passed away several years while homeless. Support the Soupman

One day, Al Roker joined Kelleher at work to see first-hand how much the warm clothes and hot, homemade soup could impact those in need.

"It's pretty simple, people helping people," said Kelleher. "And it doesn't take much to put a smile on someone's face."

Now, he passes out soup and clothes from a set of school buses.

"You don't see people handing soup out of a school bus!" joked Al, as he helped Kelleher distribute cups of soup to those who approached.

Keheller's colorful school bus is now a source of hot soup and warm clothes for anyone who needs them. Support the Soupman

Kelleher estimates that since he first started this project, he's given out more than 3,000 cups of soup, and has donated tens of thousands of winter clothes. He even travels with a portable shower, allowing people without homes to enjoy a hot shower.

Kelleher isn't just popular in Massachusetts. He said that he's had cities and towns in different states calling him, asking him to bring his buses to their cities and spread the message of how much a cup of soup can help someone.

"What does a hot cup of soup mean?" asked Al.

"Warmth and kindness and love," Kelleher responded. "That's what it means to me."