HOLLYWOOD, Fla. — The Boys and Girls Club in Hollywood is more than just an extracurricular venture for children; the organization aims to mold children into community leaders.
To celebrate the end of summer and kick off the new academic year, the club hosted Kindness Week from Aug. 7 to 11. During the week, members participated in service events that aimed to help various aspects of the community. Activities included making pillows to give to foster children through Project Linus, writing cards for military service men and women, creating care packages for Hollywood’s Paws 2 Care Coalition, Inc., putting together small bags with snacks and goods for the Seminole Police Department and Fire and Rescue Department, and showing love for their families by crafting picture frames filled with photos of themselves and their siblings. This is the first time the Tribe’s Boys and Girls Club held a week of service. Valentina Arce, Boys and Girls Club youth coordinator, said they plan on hosting it again, as the children were clearly positively impacted by the projects.
“I just wanted to expand [the service the kids already do]. … They did one act of random kindness event last year, but we stepped it up to do it for a week,” Arce said. “[The students] started asking about more things. At first for example, with the pillows, they wanted to keep the pillows. They didn’t understand why they were making them to give them to someone else … then at the end they wanted to make more pillows to give away.”
In just one week, 25 kids logged more than 200 service hours doing the kindness-oriented activities. The hours were submitted to Boys and Girls Club of America’s Million Members, Million Hours program, a national effort to get kids throughout the country to put in 1 million hours of community service by 2020. Nearly 90 Tribal students participated in this program throughout the summer.
The initiative and the responsibility children learned is something that Arce said will contribute to a sustainable future for children and their communities.
“It teaches the members while they’re young about giving back and dedicating a little bit of their time to others and the community,” she said. “It helps mold them for the future. They’re not just kids, they’re our future leaders.”