Knoxville children among those serving others during Tennessee Summer Challenge


KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – The summer months for kids are often filled with service projects, and although the COVID-19 pandemic has kept lots of children inside this summer, a project initiated by the state enabled some kids to work closely with their parents.

WATE 6 On Your Side Consumer Reported Don Dare spent time with a mom and her three kids who completed several projects while working from their home.

With many summer programs for kids either cancelled or moved to virtual platforms because of the coronavirus.

There was a program initiated by Tennessee first lady Maria Lee several months ago that challenged children to get involved in service projects of their choice.

The workstation for this productive summer was their back porch; keeping 6-year-old Evan Martin, his 4-year-old sister Ellie, and baby sister Macie busy was not that difficult according to their mom. At first, she wondered what could they do together that’s fun and productive.

“My hope is that kids all across our state will inspire Tennesseans of all ages to help and serve their neighbors.”

Maria Lee

When Jen Martin found the Summer Challenge from the First Lady of Lee it fit right into her plans, but first she asked her children what they wanted to do.

“I gave them a list of all the different categories they suggested. Evan read them off and chose the ones he wanted to do. Ellie chose what she wanted to do and we did them.”

Jen Martin

When we visited, clothes were being sorted which will go to children in foster homes.

There were also other projects chosen by the children.

Martin’s children put together easy to assemble bags of goodies and gave them to postal workers and those who remove trash in their neighborhood.

Place mats were one of the more popular projects, they were given to the local Meals on Wheels program that gives food to seniors and others who are in need.

The lesson here: kindness.

Evan shared some wise words about his service work, “Where there is food there is love.”

He also said that doing this was special to him and that he enjoyed doing it because it was kind and fun.

“We collected donations of used or new clothes for boys and girls who are at the Department of Children Services in Knoxville.”

Jen Martin

For Jen Martin, the pay-off was seeing her children realize that they were working for others, not just for themselves.

Those place mats made by the Martin children will be given to seniors who received home-delivered meals in Knoxville and Knox County. They’ll get them next week.

The Summer Challenge Program for kids officially ends Friday, July 31.

Soon afterwards, the Martins and other children will receive individual certificates to thank them for their service to others in the summer of 2020.


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