Kids Doing Good Stuff: Serving up a sense of community

Sarah Delaney spends many afternoons working with kids from around the world, who are part of the Madison High School community food pantry.

“Even though coming from different nationalities, cultures, they share a common experience, and particularly that common experience resilience and strength, and having to come to a new community,” says Delaney, coordinator for Sun School.

Like for Yermos Mashimango, who arrived in the United States from Congo last year. He didn’t speak English. He didn’t know a single person, but working at the pantry after school brought out the similarities between the students.

The kids know there are a bunch of other places most teenagers hang out after school, but they choose to work in the pantry.

“After school, there are a lot of clubs, but I really want to take my time and help to be here, helping people out,” says Mashimango.

They have common backgrounds and struggles they’ve overcome. And that drives them to help.

The pantry serves any student or families with kids at Madison High School and the surrounding feeder schools.

“It’s for our school, to make our school more successful,” says student Kosan Takoichy.

And the program is building its own future success.

“Not only are we providing services, but we’re providing an opportunity for leadership, and they totally take advantage of that,” Delaney says.

The kids don’t only work the pantry, but they are recipients, too. It’s an opportunity to serve others, make memories and strengthen relationships in their new home.

Madison High School is one of 31 Oregon food-bank-based school pantries.

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