By Carolyn Tokunaga
When we completed the Kid City Spring Project at the beginning of the pandemic, we didn’t anticipate a 9 month shutdown of the church. As programming has gone virtual, trying to complete our mission projects had to take on a new slant. With Kid City Hope Place shut down, we thought our Back to School Care Packages could not happen – no one could safely shop the sales or assemble the bags. France Wong was able to order Census 2020 items for Kid City in anticipation of our next possible project. We had 100 tote bags, 100 memo pads, 100 pens, and 100 stress balls on hand when Ann Hawthorne called about a Back to School Project. She picked up the boxes and added these items to other donations. We also sent them the monetary donations made to Kid City projects to purchase blue light glasses. This Back to School Project looked very different this fall but Centenary was able to continue our support of Kid City.
On September 4, 2020, Anne Hawthorne Director of the Los Angeles Urban Foundation and Angel Garcia, a Kid City student and Intern, joined our virtual worship.
Angel shared his journey with Kid City. He joined Kid City during high school and was mentored through the college application process. As a college student at UC Riverside, he has received the School Bags we assemble each year and expressed gratitude for the school supplies but even more, he appreciated knowing that there were others supporting him. As an intern, he found himself working on a virtual Splash LA, Kid City’s big outdoor summer fundraiser, researching on-line for the computer glasses, and assembling Back to School bags. He hopes to get back to campus for his senior year. With classes and labs on-line, the school experience has been different but the goal of graduation remains the same. He thanked us for our continuing support and care.
In another year, he may join the ranks of the Kid City grads who continue their association with Hope Place as mentors, volunteers, and tutors, always sharing their stories of struggles and successes and offering encouragement to those following in their footsteps. Grads and students give back in so many ways to a program that has nurtured them.