When Fully Fullwood ventured to Brazil, Indonesia and Haiti, he went as a musician, not a humanitarian. But between gigs, he toured the surrounding neighborhoods and witnessed a darker side of life — people squatting on trash-laden street corners and eating out of gutters.
"When I saw children, dirty, living like that, in my heart I just thought, 'Oh my gosh,'" he said. "It got to me — I felt really bad."
Born Astley George Fullwood in Jamaica, the jazz, blues and reggae artist is no stranger to poverty, but these experiences, which by his own admission were "horrible," moved something within him. They inspired Fullwood to action, and "Reggae for a Reason" was born.
Organized under the banner of "Jammin' to End Youth Homelessness," the annual fundraiser will take place between 3 and 7 p.m. Sunday at Don the Beachcomber in Huntington Beach. Currently in its second year, it provides the community with an opportunity to come forward with clothes, tinned food and donations to benefit children and families under duress.
Fullwood and his bandmates — one of whom he grew up with and others he has known from his Soul Syndicate days — contribute part of the $5 admission fee to nonprofits, including Love in the Mirror, Stand Up For Kids, Colette's Children's Home, American Family Housing and Project Hope School Foundation.
They also play weekly "Live Reggae Sundays" to raise money and awareness about this initiative, which is further supported by people who host bake sales and raffles to aid Orange County's roughly 20,000 homeless citizens.
"I cannot cure the world, but I wanted to see what I can do to help," Fullwood said. "With music, which is my means, I was very fortunate to be in the right place at the right time."
Fullwood, who revealed only that he is in his early 60s, has lived in San Clemente since 1981. Before and since, he has traveled, and then some. Argentina, Germany, parts of Africa, most of Europe — he counted them all off.
"I've been around the world maybe 10 or more times," he said, as if that fact were no big deal. "Some places — I can't even pronounce their names."
Over the years, he has recorded with luminaries such as Bob Marley and the Wailers, Peter Tosh, Dennis Brown, Gregory Isaacs and Max Romeo.
For "Reggae for a Reason," he will create a different kind of partnership — with 10-year-old Jonas Corona.
The Long Beach resident is listed as "Founder and Chief Changer" of Love in the Mirror, a charitable organization conceived six years ago to combat youth homelessness.
"I chose to help children because they are younger than adults and they cannot survive if they do not have help," Jonas said. "It is not their fault that they are homeless."
The idea for Love in the Mirror was sparked during childhood visits to Skid Row, he recalled. Jonas' mother brought him there to volunteer for the first time when he was four, and another trip two years after that led to an epiphany.
"One day when I was six years old, I saw some kids in line to get a meal that were my age," he said. "I didn't understand and wanted to help them. I asked my mom why we didn't go more than once a month, and she told me that there were not enough donations to help everyone every day."
Jonas' generosity and insight, at an age when kids don't usually think about helping others, impressed Fullwood, who labeled him a "very nice young man." Jonas thinks Fullwood "is just an awesome person."
On Sunday, the duo will talk to people about how raising money and awareness could change lives. The funds collected, Jonas explained, will help Love in the Mirror purchase backpacks and supplies for the next school year.
"I think it is not fair that there are people who have more than enough things to live while others have nothing," he said. "I think we should help each other."
If You Go
What: Fully Fullwood's Reggae for a Reason
Where: Don the Beachcomber, 16278 Pacific Coast Hwy., Huntington Beach
When: 3 to 7 p.m. Sunday