​Kids Have Hearts for Those in Need


by Kevin Cummings, Messenger Staff Writer
Giving a chunk of birthday money or selling cold lemonade to help neighbors afford food and basic needs are ways that Community Action Committee’s youngest volunteers show they care.
Community Action Committee (CAC) is an outreach of Otey Parish in Sewanee, which provides free food and a monthly community lunch, as well as assistance with emergency expenses. One of the program’s young benefactors, Griff Wilson, 10, sold cookies at a yard sale in May 2017, raising about $120 for CAC.
“The woman was so happy when I gave her the money and I just like it when people smile at me and are happy that I did something good,” he said. “I’d do it again for that and for helping people who are less fortunate.”
The ‘woman,’ CAC director Betty Carpenter, said the benevolence of Griff and other young volunteers is inspiring.
“To see their passion and dedication at such a young age gives me hope for the future,” Carpenter said. “I discovered long ago that kids are willing to do all kinds of outreach but it is up to adults to make it happen. I am grateful for the parents who help and encourage their children to think about and do something for others through CAC.”
Millie Roberts, 6, opened a lemonade stand in her neighborhood last fall to raise money for the organization, with some help from little sister Jane, who rounded up a few friends to buy lemonade. Millie also has future fundraising ideas.
“I was thinking this winter, when I grow up, I could do a lemonade stand in the summer and fall. When it gets like to Halloween, I’ll do candy for a while and when it gets really cold outside, I’ll do hot chocolate,” she said.
Elliott Benson, 11, gives time and labor to the CAC. Elliott, the son of Emily Puckette and John Benson, breaks downs cardboard boxes for CAC almost weekly. He’s worked there for more than three years, at first shredding paper.
“My mom suggested it originally,” the Elliott said. “It’s something to do to help the community.”
Elliott is heavily involved in school sports, but still makes time to do the work.
“I want them to know that their contributions are important and needed,” Carpenter said about the youthful philanthropists. “When kids do good things we need to affirm their efforts. CAC is a thread that connects the community and there are ways to be involved no matter what your age might be.”
Griff, son of Leigh Anne Couch and Kevin Wilson, said one day he might be a chef and also start his own CAC program.
“I think that it’s really important to help the poor because they are less fortunate than us by not having as much money and food,” he said. “I think all the people in the world should have equal money and a good house, and have food and water to drink every day.”
He has also saved his allowance money and Christmas money for the local charity.
“I split it into three piles, one for the bank, one for me and one for the CAC,” he said.
At his birthday party last year when he turned 10, he asked guests to bring $10, one $5 bill for him and one for the organization.
Millie and Jane, the daughters of Haynes and Megan Roberts, also gave some of their old toys away at Christmas, recently making a donation to the University of the South’s childcare program.
“My sister cried but I didn’t really care, because I’d had those toys for a long time,” Millie said, noting that it was hard to give away her favorite rocket ship, but it needed a new home.
For more information about Community Action Committee, call (931) 598-5927 or visit oteyparish.org.