Teens Learn Early the Value of Community Service

Shown are Jack & Jill members/students Thomas Tedder, Ryan Brown, Olivia Smith, Layla McNair, KJ Orsborn

The Martin Luther King Jr., national holiday was a day on not off for the teens of Jacksonville’s Chapter of Jack and Jill.  Thirty-five students in the organization volunteered to raise money, organize and execute an educational and fun event for local foster students and other teens in the community. It was held inside St. Mark’s Lutheran Evangelical Church.  More than 30 teens were recommended from organizations including the Children’s Home Society, Sulzbacher Center, group homes and Daniel Kids.  Participants were treated to breakfast and heard from dozens of experts in the community focusing on financial literacy, health, wellness, and career planning and college fair kiosk. The attendees departed with a basket filled with more than $100 in items and gift cards. Many of the teens were surprised to see peers, realizing that there were foster kids all over this city and a community that cares.

The youth organizers found the activity just as rewarding for themselves as their participants.

“I think a lot of people in Jack and Jill can be sheltered. I think seeing people whose circumstances aren’t as good as ours, it really is inspiring and also it really inspires me to want to help others,” said seventeen year-old teen president Zoie Fullwood.

The projects’s idea came straight from the teens after Children’s Home Society (CHS) presented a 2023 comprehensive analysis about the foster care structure and resources.

The chapter’s day of service is now being considered as an annual community blueprint day of service. “It truly is a beautiful way to serve and live the legacy of Dr. King who left the blueprint for how to be a community that cares for everybody,’ said chapter mother Melanie Lawson.

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