Most teenagers look forward to their fall break as a time to relax and not having to think about doing school work. But for the past four years, the students at Madison Academy have looked forward to coming to Give Kids The World to spend their vacation volunteering.
Madison Academy is a Christian-based private school located in Huntsville, Alabama that encourages their students to give back by doing service projects and missions throughout the year. Until 2009 their missions were mostly in places like Ecuador or Ghana, but after learning about Give Kids The World they decided to expand their program to include a mission trip to the Village. Every fall, a group of 30 or so students and chaperones make their way to Orlando to spend as much time as they can volunteering. There’s no shortage of students willing to pay their own way to come to GKTW because they find the experience so amazing and rewarding.
Nikki Williams and Caroline Lisenba are two seniors who have been to the Village three years for this trip. They both help coordinate the trip by getting people to sign up, collecting paperwork and money, as well as scheduling shifts when they get to the Village. Even though it can be difficult organizing so many people, they know the end result will be worth it. “One time I was talking to a family and they couldn’t believe that we spend our break down here volunteering. I didn’t realize how much they appreciated us until then, but I believe I appreciate them much more because I know I couldn’t get this experience anywhere else,” Nikki said.
This year on the trip there were actually two former wish children, a chaperone who came to the Village in 1999 and a student who came in 2005 when she was seven years old. Returning brought back a lot of memories for them, and provided some insight for the student volunteers.
“You can see how happy the families are when they’re here. You know they’re going through a hard time but you can’t always see that because you’re helping them and it makes them forget for a little while,” said Caroline.
Even though it’s their last year to participate as students, they believe that the fall break volunteering trips will continue indefinitely because there are always people from the school willing to donate their time.
GKTW is truly grateful for the inspiration the Madison Academy students and chaperones provide to us as well as others. We thank you for the time and enthusiasm you put into volunteering at the Village.