St. Cloud man celebrates birthday by loving his neighbors

Cortez Riley, of St. Cloud, may be on to something that should catch on.

He just turned 28, the St. Cloud Times says, so to celebrate, he set up a week of events to get his family and friends to join him in volunteering around his community.

“I feel like we just need each other. There’s so much ugliness going on in the world right now that we need an outlet to … express ourselves and come together,” he said.

Insert your overgeneralized opinion of Millennials here.

“I thought that was one of the most amazing things ever,” he said. “I was just very intrigued that people could use their birthday to … spread love. So for the past several years, I’ve been praying on it. My higher power gave me the vision.”

He used the resources and networks he’s developed in St. Cloud to find opportunities to volunteer. Riley also is using the events to encourage people to register to vote.

“Honestly, I’m not a morning person. But when it’s for the greater good, I will get up and sacrifice sleep because I know there’s a bigger purpose and I know that I can brighten somebody else’s day,” he said. “I’m excited about … adding to St. Cloud, using the gifts that I was born with, to make somebody smile.”

On Saturday, Riley was at the Promise Neighborhood Back to School event, where he and his family registered to vote. The nonprofit provided free backpacks and school supplies and low-cost clothing to people in need.

He even got sponsors — a towing company and a heating and air conditioning firm — to help supply the items needed for the week-long event.

On Monday, for example, he, his mother, and several friends cooked for homeless people.

Here’s his Facebook page.