The Student News Site of Claudia Taylor Johnson High School

My Jag News

The Student News Site of Claudia Taylor Johnson High School

My Jag News

The Student News Site of Claudia Taylor Johnson High School

My Jag News

Apr 15, 2024

Kids helping kids: a memorable experience at Kids Cafe

by Lauren Tsai | Co-Editor-in-Chief

On January 14, the Johnson Key Club visited Laurel Heights Youth Center, a Kids Cafe location which provides care and meals to at-risk kids. The recipients of a Spurs grant awarded to combat child hunger, members were finally introduced to the kids who inspired their project. For some, the experience was unforgettable.

“What an amazing opportunity the Key Club members had,” co-advisor Nancy Forget said. “Hearts were shining. I was so proud to witness the shared joy of watching everyone play together.”

The Laurel Heights Youth Center is associated with the Kids Cafe network which encourages partnerships between after-school programs and local food banks. Also part of a federal program, the center offers free and safe services which include tutoring, mentoring, and enrichment activities. When the Key Club arrived, the kids had already had a busy morning participating in technology, art, and physical education classes.

The afternoon started with a prayer. Then, some members sat down and talked with the kids while others prepared snacks to distribute.

“It humbled me to see kids appreciate just having someone to talk to,” junior Destiny Castillo said. “They were so open-armed to us; they were easy to talk to, they didn’t judge you. They wanted to be your friend.”

The club also had the opportunity to mentor the kids and speak about character building. The maturity of the kids surprised freshman Elizabeth Jose.

“To be honest, [they didn’t seem disadvantaged] because they have the same goals and desires as any child their age,” she said.

Laughter filled the center as the members and kids danced and played games with each other.

“I would describe the kids as fun and energetic,” Jose said. “The most surprising thing about my experience was how easily the children were open to the Key Club and spending time with us.”

Castillo impressed the kids with her cheerleading moves.

“They really liked that we taught them cheers,” she said. “They were all really sweet, just really happy. They all had smiles on their faces.”

The image of one child stayed with her.

“One of the little girls got to me the most. I saw a little of myself in her and I wanted to help her,” Castillo said. “She asked me if I was going to come back and I said yes because I had a good time and it was a really good experience.”

When parents came to pick their kids up, they were offered 50 lb boxes of groceries funded by the club’s grant. Many parents expressed their appreciation but Forget said that she was even more grateful.

“We certainly were the recipients of a big gift – the gift of making a few kids smile.”

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Kids helping kids: a memorable experience at Kids Cafe