Give Kids The World was excited to welcome Clayton and his family to the Village in 2007 for their wish trip. When the family first arrived, Clayton loved spending time in the pool and was thrilled to discover that he shared his name with GKTW’s Mayor Clayton! “You can relax here. There are so many volunteers and staff that are here to help and make your stay relaxing and memorable. That is something that GKTW gave to my family, and now I want to give back,” said Rhonda, Clayton’s mother. Ryan, Clayton’s brother, fondly remembers the family’s trips to the Ice Cream Palace.
After their amazing wish trip, the Village was excited to learn that Rhonda, along with her husband Leonard was interested in becoming a part of our Volunteer Program. After the family returned home from their first Angel experience in 2010, Rhonda began a memorial scholarship volunteering program at Narragansett High School in Massachusetts, “The Clayton Laine Volunteer Program.” This program offered juniors who had proven themselves reliable, compassionate and of good moral character, the chance to visit Give Kids The World Village for a magical volunteer experience. “The scholarship program has been a great way to teach students about the importance of volunteering while raising awareness for GKTW in our community,” said Rhonda.
In their second year visiting, the Clayton Laine Volunteers were eager to get started. The group spent three fun-filled days volunteering at different venues and celebrations such as Mayor Clayton’s Birthday Party, The Park of Dreams and JJ’s Express. “It has been so cool seeing all of the smiles. Everyone is just so happy here!” said one of the students, who was thrilled to be asked for her autograph during a volunteer shift. Accompanying Rhonda on this visit was fellow chaperone, Kelly, an English teacher from the school who also happens to be an alumni wish mom.
Kelly shared stories of her family’s wish trip and memories of the Enchanted Carousel and Marc’s DinoPutt. “We didn’t spend nearly as much time in the parks as we expected. The kids were always eager to return to the Village. This was their favorite part of the trip.”
For two of the students, Emily and Julie, this trip marked their first flying experience. Although both were nervous leading up to the journey, all the students agreed they can’t wait to come back someday.
Give Kids The World was honored to welcome back Rhonda and Kelly, along with the students who were chosen for the trip. Clayton Laine’s Volunteer Group brought laughter and smiles to the Village, and we are eager to welcome them again in the future.
Contributed by Mpumi Nobiva