Berlin Youth Club Extending Helping Hand To Others

Berlin Youth Club Extending Helping Hand To Others
Berklin Youth

BERLIN – Local children are kicking off the season of giving with a project they hope will help kids half a world away.

Participants in the Berlin Youth Club have started a book drive to benefit libraries in Kenya.

“I asked them who they wanted to help this year and they said Africa,” said Melanie Windsor, the Berlin youth coordinator. “I’m pretty excited about it.”

Windsor, who organizes the Berlin Youth Club for Worcester Youth and Family Counseling Services, said when the kids told her they wanted to help people in Africa this holiday season, she instantly thought of Books for Africa, a program she had just heard about that was helping to stock library shelves in African countries.

“When we talked to the kids about the idea, they really liked it,” she said.

Windsor said they have set a goal of collecting enough gently used books to line the hallway that runs the length of the WYFCS building. She’s promised them a celebration if they meet their objective.

“There’s a gratitude lesson in it though,” she said, adding that she was particularly proud of the children for suggesting a project that was on a global scale.

Berlin Youth Club always does a community oriented project during the holiday season, she explained, but it’s usually only at the local level. Last year’s effort, a “Make and Take Craft Night,” involved the kids making ornaments. They made one to take home and another for WYFCS to sell as part of a fundraiser. The organization was able to donate to several local charities through the effort.

“It’s a really simple project but they’re really pretty,” Windsor said, “and the kids love making them.”

Because it was so successful last year, the craft night will take place again this year on Dec. 12 at 5 p.m. at the WYFCS office on Main Street.  Last year, Windsor said local business owners were kind enough to sell the ornaments in their shops. She is hoping the same can happen this year.

“We’re always looking for community partners,” she said.

In the meantime, participants in Berlin Youth Club are staying busy with field trips and other projects. During October, which was Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the kids put together care packages for cancer patients, which they gave to Women Supporting Women. They have also been collecting personal hygiene products to give to the needy during Worcester County’s Community Resource Day.

The Berlin Youth Club was formed in 2011 to find ways to keep local kids busy with productive activities.

“We provide safe, free, meaningful activities,” Windsor said.

The program began when the Town of Berlin, which had been considering hiring a youth coordinator, opted to contract with Worcester Youth and Family Counseling to develop youth activities in Berlin. After starting with about a dozen participating children in 2011, the program has grown each year and currently has 50 children enrolled. Those kids have the chance to participate in dozens of events and field trips each year as well as summer camp.

For more information about WYFCS or the book drive, contact 410-641-4598.