Web Exclusive: Missouri after-school program teaching kids the value of service

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LEE’S SUMMIT, Mo. (WDAF) — A staff member at a Lee’s Summit Elementary School in Missouri is instilling in kids that they can make a difference even at young age.

Hawthorn Hill Elementary is in one of the top 10 wealthiest zip codes in the metro, but Lorenzo Harrison wants students to know the community is at the center of everything.

“If we give these students an opportunity to make a difference in our community, while they’re still here in our building, it kind of gives them a different look at life,” Harrison said

Harrison is the site coordinator at the school and oversees the before- and after-school programs. Kids who are enrolled learn something different each day of the week, whether it’s sports on Mondays or health and wellness on Wednesdays.

But Fridays are all about community service.

“It’s just something that the kids have gravitated to, and it’s exciting to see,” he said.

The students have completed several service projects in recent months.

They’ve held a food drive and a coin drive, during which they raised $500 for Patrick Mahomes’ foundation, 15 and The Mahomies. Last week, they wrapped their diaper drive where students collected more than 8,000 diapers to donate to a local charity.

“We always make sure the importance of how many lives they’ve changed and why we did this,” he said.

The school’s principal, Dr. Troy Hogg, called Harrison a “wonderful addition to the staff.”

“He has brought in so many servant-leadership opportunities for our students and has really been a shining example to the rest of the staff,” Hogg said.

Harrison isn’t just making an impression on his peers; he’s also changing the hearts of young people like Addison Burks. The 6th-grader doesn’t have many opportunities outside of school to volunteer, but she said she like helping people.

“It’s a win-win because I learn and the kids in the class learn how to be a better person, how to actually help and learn empathy,” she said.

Harrison, only 21 years old, is currently enrolled in college to get his teaching degree.

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