Winter Garden children make a difference with Kind Kids Foundation
A group of children in Winter Garden created the Kind Kids Foundation to make a difference in the community through volunteer service.
| 9:09 a.m. August 8, 2019
West Orange Times & Observer
Most children spend their summer vacations attending camps, having cannonball contests in the pool or playing video games.
But for those involved in the Kind Kids Foundation, this summer was an opportunity to serve the community and brighten other children’s days.
The Winter Garden-based foundation was started by Lauren Grauer, a rising fifth-grader at Whispering Oak Elementary, and a group of her friends who wanted to make a difference in the community.
“(My mom and I) thought it would be a really good idea just to start a club, because really it’s not that easy for kids nowadays to volunteer and contribute to our planet,” Lauren said. “But with Kind Kids it makes it easy to do so, and kids can come and make a difference in the world.”
HEART TO SERVE
Lauren, her friends and their parents got to work forming the KKF earlier this year. It’s a service-learning organization of children and families who care about creating a kinder world by helping people, animals and the planet. Children are given opportunities to spread kindness through service — and they also get to have a say in what those opportunities should be.
“We started sending messages and emails to all of my friends, and they all thought it was a great idea,” Lauren said. “We got together the next day and had a big play date and talked about Kind Kids.”
The first steps included creating a logo and a mission, as well as electing officers. Lauren serves as the president and founder of KKF. Hannah Symons is the vice president of finance, Lindsay Gato is the vice president of public relations, Leah Symons is the vice president of communications and marketing, and Sasha Haggins is the vice president of operations.
“The purpose of Kind Kids is to provide kids and their families opportunities to spread kindness and volunteer,” Lindsay said. “We want to create a better world from all of this.”
Lindsay added that every child in KKF has a say in what the organization does. When creating the logo, each member drew out his or her ideas on a piece of paper. They ended up combining multiple ideas to create the logo, which consists of children holding hands — along with pets on each end of the line — across the top of the Earth.
Members also meet to talk about ideas for more volunteer opportunities to get involved with and brainstorm ways to serve the community. They try to look for things that children of all ages can participate in — including the younger members.
“It’s really cool we have a lot of different ages in Kind Kids,” Lauren said. “A lot of (these events) are really any age. (The little kids) can also help with the lemonade stands and car washes. They’re still helping Kind Kids.”
“It makes some of the younger kids feel cool that they’re in a group, because some of the younger kids can’t really do stuff like this because they have age limits,” Lindsay added.
KKF’s first volunteer project took place at the end of May as part of supporting Red Nose Day, a movement to end childhood hunger. KKF members dropped off grocery bags to neighbors to be filled with canned and boxed foods for children and then delivered the bags to Matthew’s Hope.
The children also have participated in beach cleanups, volunteered at The Sheridan at Windermere and Give Kids The World Village and participated in The Compassion Experience.
At KKF’s last meeting, more than 20 children gathered to pack backpacks filled with school supplies for students at SunRidge Elementary. They also collected new clothing to donate to the Jordan family, whose Windermere home burned down in a fire less than a month ago.
The children put their heads together to come up with their next charitable event — running in and cheering on other runners at the Orlando Color Run. The color run benefits the American Childhood Cancer Organization, and the KKF members are running in honor of Lauren’s 3-year-old cousin, Connor Hall.
Connor was diagnosed with brain cancer at the age of 4 months and was not supposed to survive past age 3. However, he made a miraculous recovery, and the KKF children are supporting children’s cancer research so other children with cancer will have better chances of survival and quality of life.
Lauren said KKF members want to participate in at least 12 events each year, along with ongoing volunteer opportunities.
“We’re hoping for this foundation to get really big,” she said. “There are a lot of kids and animals that really need help and are suffering. When you see movies based off true stories and you see news reports, it’s hard to think that there (are) other animals and people that need our help.”
Her mom, Wendy Grauer, expressed how proud she is of the children for coming together to contribute to the community and help those who need it most.
“Life is so busy and we’re so focused on achieving (our own goals) that it’s important to step back and realize we’re blessed to have what we do, and it’s important to help others and give back to our community,” Wendy said.
“I think it’s amazing that they have the hearts for this, and the dedication that they’ve shown to this cause is just amazing. They really have taken the ball and run with it and created something other kids can experience with their families, as well. They’re going to encourage kids to do great things in there community and to embrace it, too.”