Pageant winner uses platform to create volunteer program

Elementary student’s idea puts together projects kids can do

After Kinsley Palilla became Miss Pennsylvania Princess in November and took part in volunteer activities encouraged by the pageant program, she noticed that almost all of her fellow volunteers were adults.

It bothered her, so she’s done something about it.

At a recent meeting of City Council, the 9-year-old third-grader at Ebner Elementary explained her Kids for Community program, which puts together projects that children in kindergarten through grade 12 can help with — solving the problem experienced by those who are willing to volunteer, but who struggle to identify likely opportunities.

“I want kids to experience the good feelings from helping,” Kinsley told council members.

Sometimes children who are inclined to volunteer just don’t know where to start, she said.

Her organization has no membership requirement, said Kinsley’s mother, Stacy.

About 35 kids and their family members — including parents and siblings like Kinsley’s two older brothers — are involved, Stacy said.

Participation is “fluid,” with no hard commitments, which makes it easy, she said.

Kids can get “involved on terms that best suit their family’s schedules and desires,” states the Kids for Community Facebook page.

So far, participants have sung carols in nursing homes, recognized Martin Luther King Day, sent cards to veterans, raised money for Daffodil Days for the American Cancer Society and started a Relay For Life team, Stacy said.

Currently, the organization is working on fulfilling a wish list of items like cat litter and pet food for the Central Pennsylvania Humane Society.

“Help us leave an impression of positivity, compassion and caring on the lives we touch,” the Facebook page states. “Kids naturally have the desire to want to help.”

“You certainly have a heart of gold,” Mayor Matt Pacifico told Kinsley after her presentation.

“It’s a pleasure to see a young person do great things for the city,” said Councilman Erik Cagle.

A pageant title gives titleholders a platform — “a place to speak from” — and she wants to take advantage of that to do good, Kinsley said after the meeting. “I couldn’t care less about the gowns,” she said.

Kinsley’s project is in keeping with the pageant community’s frequent promotion of community service, Stacy said.

Kids for Community supports a similar local organization called Kinder Quest, Stacy said.

Kinder Quest plans to create four community help projects per year on which children ages 3 to 7 can work, to instill values like empathy and caring for others, according to a Facebook page for that organization, founded by Brittany Solomon of Bellwood, a mother of two.

Mirror Staff Writer William Kibler is at 949-7038.