A group of about 30 teens braved the rain recently to ensure that needy elementary grade students got the school supplies they required for success.
High school students from the National League of Young Men and National Charity League delivered boxes full of school supplies to needy kids in Newport-Mesa Unified School District’s Project Success program at Pomona Elementary School in Costa Mesa on Nov. 30.
The high school students also worked on an assignment together and shared a snack.
“It was a huge success,” said Jamie Kula, chair person of the Meet the Need school box program and parent organizer from NLYM. “You can tell just by listening in and watching the interaction between the high schoolers and the younger kids. They’re both engaged and having a great time.”
The older students assembled more than 260 school supply boxes and delivered them to two Project Success schools, Pomona plus Wilson Elementary the day before.
The boxes started as a project for NLYM boys last year, and evolved into a “Meet the Need” project this year, and they decided to team up with 12th grade girls from NCL.
There is a lot of overlap with service model and values of the two organizations, said another volunteer mother, Susan Friend, so it was a perfect fit.
Each and every box included six school items: Scissors, box of regular pencils, box of colored pencils, crayons, pencil sharpeners and eraser tips.
“[The Meet the Need program is] serving needy students in our own backyard,” Kula said.
The teens visited more than 200 first-sixth grade students over the two days.
“The idea of giving the boxes to the kids who will be using them the most,” is fulfilling, said Charlie Welsh, a junior from Mater Dei High School.
The young children are very impressionable at this age, Kula said, and this was the perfect opportunity for the teens to have an impact on their lives.
“We like the boxes they gave us,” second grader Angel Alvarado, 7, said. He and his buddy, fellow second grader Carlos Gonzales, also 7, filled out their “buddy sheet” with their high school partner, Hannah Hall, a senior at Corona del Mar High School.
The two had fun sharing stories with “Miss Hall,” as they politely called her, and asked questions to learn more about their new friend.
Other buddies talked about extracurricular activities, homework and even college.
“A good time was had by all,” Kula said. “What a joy to see their smiling faces as they interacted and shared with each other.”
The National League of Young Men, formerly known as the Beach City Service League, is a relatively new service organization for young men and their mothers.
The organization originated in Newport Beach in 2007 and has grown by “leaps and bounds” since then, said Suzanne Woods, the parent in charge of public relations for the group this year.
Last year, the league became a national organization and changed its name so it would apply to nation wide chapters, not just ones in “beach cities.”
Friend said she hopes this program will continue with NLYM year after year.
“It’s great for kids to work with kids,” Kula said.
She hopes the high school students continue their relationship with the Project Success kids by tutoring or volunteering throughout the rest of the year.
The teens deliver a lot more than school supplies. They offer friendship, advice, and fun, while setting a good example the elementary kids can look up to as a role model.
They have an immediate connection, she said, and the younger kids look forward to seeing them again.
“They’re older, but not adults,” Kula added, so the young kids can relate to them better.
And it means a lot to all the students, both young and old.
“The kids loved [the boxes and our activities together]. They really appreciate it,” Welsh said. And “I’m getting the feeling that I can go home knowing I made somebody happy today.”