In the paper today is a story about a 7 year old kid (Ryley McKeown) who has collected $770 dollars, 250 books, and huge amounts of donated fresh garden vegetables for The Banquet, where the hungry can eat for free. Granted, one of the things being donated is zucchini from his mom’s garden–Ryley doesn’t like zucchini. But what other kid starts a food drive that includes the food he doesn’t like from the garden instead of just complaining that he doesn’t like it?
Ryley came up with his Help the Hungry project following a challenge from his martial arts instructor through a program called Make An Impact which encourages “students to perform community service throughout the the summer instead of sitting on the couch playing video games.” Wow. What a great idea. Do something productive and helpful for others instead of self-indulgent time-wasting.
Because his mom helps him with the project, he pays her back by cleaning the bathrooms in their home, his usual chore, and by watering flowers every day. (His mom must be less exacting than mine was–she didn’t make us clean the bathroom until we were nine, though we did dishes and cleaned our room by age 7. And we ironed our dad’s handkerchiefs.) I’m gratified to learn there are still some kids who are required to do chores. And not get paid for it.
I know not every child can be like Ryley. He strikes me as an outgoing and gregarious kid which eases the task of interfacing with others. Shy children would have a much more difficult time with that aspect of volunteerism. And a lot of kids have parents who don’t have the time or inclination to encourage service projects. Or maybe they don’t have the energy. Or maybe it never occurs to them. But, bottom line, I was happy to read about a child who understands that not everybody has the same advantages as he does, and he cares about that. And wants to help.