School's out for the summer, so what were all those kids doing in the Woodrow Wilson Elementary School cafeteria on a recent afternoon?
All were participants in Kids Reaching Out, the July project organized by United Way's Summer of Service.
The program, which runs through Aug. 31, aims to get kids ages five through 18 and their families involved in their communities while they're out of school for the summer by volunteering.
To participate, kids download a service journal off the Summer of Service page on United Way's website, http://www.uw.org. Kids then go out and do good, taking their parents and siblings along for the ride.
"It's important for them to learn the world doesn't revolve around them," said Misti Mitchell, who volunteered with her children at Woodrow Wilson.
United Way organizes one project a month, and additional opportunities can be found on the Summer of Service webpage. This year, the three projects focus on helping schools where many students qualify for federal assistance.
The volunteers at Woodrow Wilson assembled care packages for the staff and faculty at the South Salt Lake school. Moms dropped candy, Post-it notes, pens and pencils into bags while their kids colored sheets reading "Welcome Back to School" to adorn the bags.
Kids seem to enjoy the Summer of Service programs. First-grader Catie Lloyd volunteered last year and returned to the program this year.
"It's really fun," Lloyd said. "And I like to do fun stuff."
Her 18-month-old brother Ryker accompanied her family as well. Watch for him to do his part in the program four years from now.
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How to help
Road Home Apple Trees, loaded with apples with the names of children living in the Road Home, a Salt Lake family homeless shelter, can be found at Old Navy, DownEast, Payless ShoeSource and Salt Lake City-area Staples stores. The shelter is collecting new back-to-school clothing and supplies for more than 100 children. Items can be donated at any of 32 partner locations from Provo to Ogden. Details are at http://www.theroadhomeappletree.com.
Men's Wearhouse is holding its sixth annual National Suit Drive, collecting business attire for unemployed men and women through July 31. In Utah it will partner with Catholic Community Services of Utah, which helps people along the Wasatch Front reach self-sufficiency. Donors can take gently used men's and women's professional clothing to a local store. Details are at http://www.NationalSuitDrive.com.
Salt Lake County Aging Services is accepting donations of new fans for seniors in need. Call (385) 468-3200 for details.
In its 3rd Annual Stuff the Bus,sponsored by Chase, United Way of Salt Lake is gathering school supplies for 5,000 low-income children served through its Neighborhood Centers. The drive ends Aug. 31. Details are at uw.org.
Bank of Utah is sponsoring a "Shower Them with Love" charity drive during July for moms and babies in need. All locations will accept donations of baby items, and the goods will be sent to charities around the state. Details are at https://www.bankofutah.com/shower_them_with_love.html.
Harley Davidson of Salt Lake is supporting a "Homes For Heroes" motorcycle ride to benefit homeless veterans on July 13. See its Facebook page for details. The ride will start at 9:30 a.m. after a 7 a.m. breakfast at the store at 2928 S State Street in South Salt Lake. It will end on the Salt Lake City Veterans Affairs campus. Other partners include Sam's Club, Harmon's Grocery, Fox 13, and the Marine Corps League.
Rocky Mountain Care Foundation plans its 6th Annual "Live 2 Give" 5K for Sugar House Park in Salt Lake City at 2 p.m. on Sept. 14, with registration at 1 p.m. Details are at http://rockymountaincarefoundation.org/5K.php. Proceeds will fund the nonprofit's health care assistance programs.
Comunidades Unidas is holding its Fourth Annual "Design the Pink Dress" contest to raise awareness about breast cancer within the Latino/Hispanic community. Winners will be announced at a fashion show on Oct. 25. Details and registration forms are available at http://www.cuutah.org.