8th grader Kyle Gowen saw a need in his own community when he learned that children who are rescued from trafficking in Salt Lake City, Utah, often spend four to five hours in the police station with almost nothing to occupy their time.
“I wanted to do an Eagle Scout project that would help kids who have been trafficked in my community. A friend of mine who was rescued from a scary situation told me about how he had to wait alone at the police station for more than 5 hours while they figured out aftercare arrangements for him, and he only had one book to read that whole time.”Kyle Gowen
He decided to reach out to a local elementary school to ask children, from kindergarten to sixth grade, to donate toys and supplies. His goal was to collect 1,000 toys, but the elementary school children doubled his expectations: They donated over 2,000 toys!
“I spoke with Jessica Mass, the Aftercare Director at Operation Underground Railroad, and we came up with a project to collect activities for child victim receiving centers at local police stations,” Kyle added. “Having activities to do while waiting helps kids feel calmer and can help them start to heal from their scary experiences.”
The donated toys will now be spread out to police stations across the Salt Lake Valley. This act of service will make it easier for rescued children to pass the long hours in the police station — hours that may be very scary and lonely. It also helped the children who donated the toys to realize the needs of those around them and to be given an opportunity to help.
Salt Lake City isn’t the only place that could benefit from this kind of service. You can be a light to your local community as well, by starting a similar project — whether you’re in Lima, Peru or Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Reading books, playing with Legos and other activities are things I love to do, and I’m so excited that I was able to collect over 2000 activity items that the police can give the kids while they are at the stations.kyle gowen
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