Sussex student pays it forward
Recently the news has been flooded with stories of good Samaritans promoting the popular phrase "pay it forward." One local youth is showing the true meaning of that statement — that even the simplest of actions can have a big impact on those he reaches out to.
Last June, now 12-year-old Sussex Templeton Middle School seventh grader Travis Wells, approached his parents Doug and Michelle, wanting to volunteer his time in the community. At such a young age, volunteer opportunities were limited, but having seen something exceptional in the young man, the Sussex Area Outreach Center accepted him as a volunteer.
Right from the start, Travis' dedication to making a difference in his community was clear. His mom recalls one day shortly after he began volunteering, Travis asked his dad to drive him to the local hardware store to see if they would be willing to donate their parking lot as the site for a fundraiser car wash. Travis recruited some of his friends to help with the event, and was able to raise a handful of money for the center.
Knowing that donations dwindle during the summer, Travis came up with the idea for a brat fry this past summer, and was able to raise around $500 for the pantry. He planned the event from start to finish, and recruited some of his friends to help run the event.
"He just likes to help people," Michelle said.
She adds that her son has inspired her to volunteer with the center as well.
"The time that he gives is incredibly valuable. The brat fry was just above and beyond," said Sussex Area Outreach Center Executive Director Jennifer Waltz. "Five hundred dollars, especially at this time of year, is wonderful to have."
Also this summer, Travis organized the set up a food collection barrel at Anytime Fitness in Sussex. Knowing that the gym was always open, he thought it would be a prime location to collect donations.
This summer "he has been very, very helpful," added Waltz. Travis has spent this past summer working several pantry shifts, helped sort clothing, unloading the government truck and worked to get the shelves stocked with food. "Whatever we need done, he is there to help."
Waltz adds that "he is great with our clients, especially our seniors." Travis explained that there are many regulars of the center that ask for him by name to help take the food to their car.
"They say that I'm kind and good at helping them out to their cars," said Travis.
On top of his work at the outreach center, Travis helps cut the grass of a fellow volunteer.
Beyond the satisfaction he gets from donating his time, Travis said that "the people who volunteer are very nice. You can have fun because the volunteers like to have fun."
Waltz said that everyone at the outreach center is appreciative of Travis. "He's an exceptional kid. He doesn't have to do this. He has biked up to the food pantry at a moment's notice if we need it."
"My husband and I are so proud of him," said Michelle.
"I think he just found a place where he really found his calling; a place that feels really good for him," explained Waltz.
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