Camp Keystone kids help feed hungry families

100_8622-croppedThe assignment for kids attending Keystone’s Camp Keystone for children with special needs was to think of a charitable activity they could do that related in some way to work they might want to do either this summer or in the future. Nick decided on a food drive, because he wants to work in a grocery store to earn money.

Why Nourishment Network? Nick says that he “googled” food banks in Jacksonville, Florida, and Lutheran Social Services of Northeast Florida and Nourishment Network came up first and most often, so he thought that would be a good group to help.

So, from July 7 through July 17, Nick steadfastly monitored collection boxes in reception areas around Keystone’s building, emptying them into a room so that they could be refilled again and again. Not only did staff and parents contribute to the drive, but a couple in the community, who are members of nearby Shepherd of the Woods Lutheran Church and who read about the drive in the newspaper, brought a huge bag of rice, large jars of protein-rich peanut butter and other food items to Keystone.

“We have plenty of food for ourselves, and we wanted to help others less fortunate,” Patty McQueen said. “I’ve worked with kids facing some of the issues of your kids, and I appreciate their effort to help others.”

By the end of the drive, 230.5 pounds of food had been donated. On July 21, Nick and Kristen Coln, a post-doctoral resident who works with Nick at Keystone, loaded up the food in her car and took it to Lutheran Social Services.

Jason Clark, who manages LSS’s Nourishment Network food program, gratefully accepted the food and presented Nick with an award of appreciation. The Empty Bowl on the award is a reminder to Nick and the community that many children in our community go to bed without having had dinner, not knowing if there will be any breakfast, a reminder that we all have problems, and each of us, in our own way, can help others.

Camp Keystone is held each summer for children, ages 3-18, diagnosed with intellectual disabilities and behavior disorders. Campers work and play in low ratio groups with trained behavior therapists. Speech, occupational, behavior and mental health therapy for children is offered as well. Campers experience a variety of camp activities, such as vocational skills (daily living skills, job ready skills), social skills (play skills, peer interaction), academic skills (reading, language arts, and math), health and safety (community skills), physical activity (gross motor skills and exercise) and enriching field trips (Jacksonville Zoo, museums, community parks and more).


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