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"Raising Kind Kids" Program Encourages Children to Give Back

A Hillsborough County recreation center introduces the program this summer

Children attending summer camp at Roy Haynes Park & Recreation Center are learning the importance of giving back to their community.

The Carrollwood area children are the first to participate in the Raising Kind Kids program. Launched this summer at Roy Haynes, it is a learning experience for the young campers and helps area residents. The program emphasizes the importance of caring for others, compassion, and giving back.

During each of four, two-week summer sessions, the children and their parents donate items with a goal in mind. The first group of more than 100 children, ages 5 through 12, collected donations for the USO. Children in the second two-week session gathered items for Hillsborough County's Pet Resource Center. The current group of children donated We Care Kits to the Child Life Department for patients at St. Joseph's Children's Hospital. The last session will gather items for residents of a local assisted living facility.

Twelve children - six girls and six boys - are selected from each group to deliver the items, have lunch with the facility's director, and take a tour. On the excursion to St. Joseph's Children's Hospital, these Kid of the Week representatives delivered comfort and activity items such as socks, coloring books, crayons, colored pencils, children's magazines, activity books, lip balm, nail kits and polish, peppermints, ring pops, hand sanitizer, and lotion.

"It made me feel good to give something to them, because if I was in the hospital, I would be happy to get something to make me feel better," says Leila Botbol, 7, a Kid of the Week at Roy Haynes.

Summer supervisors at Roy Haynes plan to continue Raising Kind Kids as an after-school program, particularly around the holidays. They also will encourage other recreation centers to adopt the practice.

Photo: Roy Haynes campers pose while delivering comfort and activity items to the Child Life Department at St. Joseph's Children's Hospital.

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