Kids Helping Kids
It’s not just for grownups. Edmond youth are discovering the benefits of volunteerism and their parents are discovering another way to teach their children responsibility, hospitality, sharing, self-esteem building, and social skills.
All Things Baby
Courtney Gregg believes it’s never too early to start teaching children about giving and concern for others. “Even young children can learn to give of their time and possessions,” she says. Courtney’s 6-year-old daughter frequently sorts her belongings for items she can give to others. “Any time she sees someone with a baby she will go up and tell them about All Things Baby and give them a card,” Courtney says.
In the fall of 2006, Courtney started All Things Baby to provide expectant mothers with necessities for their babies. “When I was having my second daughter, God really revealed to me the tragedy of abortion for the mother, society and child,” says Courtney. “I thought if I could provide the items they needed maybe they would give that baby a chance. I want to bring joy back to the gift of life.”
For the past two summers teacher Pam Reagor has volunteered at HOPE Center of Edmond, which was formed in 1984 by the Edmond Ministerial Alliance. HOPE Center strives to meet the basic needs of Edmond community members by providing food, clothing, household items and financial assistance. In addition, each August, about 1,000 students receive school supplies. Each request is personally filled and hand-picked so each student will start the school year with everything they need.
This summer, while her children were busy with other activities, Pam recruited her friends’ children as volunteers. “It started as a way for my son to earn his community service hours for Boy Scouts, but it was just fun,” says Pam. “It teaches kids responsibility, people skills, tolerance and improves self-confidence.”
“Many schools are adding a service component,” says Volunteer Coordinator Cheryl Woods. “Every school in Edmond is represented at HOPE Center. They may start out thinking ‘Ok, I’ll just put in my required time,’ but then they see what an impact they can make and they stay,” she says of the student volunteers.
Pam’s 15-year-old son, Zach Lafollette, enjoys handing out school supplies. “I’m well over my service hours now, but I still like to help out. It just makes you feel good to see how happy the kids are to get their brand new school supplies,” Zach says.
Infant Crisis Services
Summit Middle School student and Miss Junior Teen Oklahoma, Summer Stolz, has volunteered at Infant Crisis Center in Oklahoma City for the past year. The center began 25 years ago as a mission project for a Sunday school class at Westminster Presbyterian Church. “We want to make sure no baby goes hungry,” says Volunteer Coordinator Beth Lykins. Children from birth to age 4 can receive food, formula, diapers and clothing.
Summer’s mother, Karen, realizes that by volunteering Summer is learning about differing lifestyles. “She’s learning we all have options and you don’t have to accept where you are,” says Karen. “You can change your direction with the help of others.”
“I enjoy knowing that I am helping people in need,” says Summer. “It’s also something I can do with my friends and introduce them to helping people.”
U R Special
Claudette Dills, mother of Edmond Mayor Patrice Douglas, founded UR Special Ministries with two other women in 1993. Claudette passed away two years ago, but one of those women, Linda King, is still involved and is the president of the board.
“My mom grew up overweight, and the idea of giving little kids, especially girls, a chance to feel good about themselves was overwhelming. She loved helping the kids pick that special outfit that would make them feel good about going to their first day of school,” says Patrice.
With a goal to foster self-respect, healthy lifestyles and self-esteem by making every child feel special, UR Special has clothed over 22,000 children through the years.
Patrice’s two sons, Patrick and Phillip, grew up at UR Special. While Patrice worked the boys stayed with Claudette so UR Special was their second home from toddler age on up. “My sons have grown up with this opportunity. But many kids don’t. They get lots of opportunities to grow academically and athletically, but might not get the chance to work on something bigger. The kids who get clothing are receiving a blessing, but those of us who volunteer receive even more. I want more kids to get the chance to see what ‘giving back’ really means,” Patrice says.
“I love to see the beautiful smiles after I help a kid pick some cool clothes,” says Patrice’s son, Patrick. “It makes the little kids coming through feel really cool.”
“I know the life lessons it teaches, and the kids of Edmond deserve that opportunity,” says Patrice. “Kids helping kids — it will mean so much to both.”
The following websites provide more information about these charities and volunteer opportunities: www.URSpecialEdmond.org, www.hopecenterofedmond.com, www.infantcrisis.org, www.allthingsbabyok.com.