In Scholars on 09/09/2020 - 11:02 AM
Scholar Spotlight: Emma King
With a new scholarship season around the corner, we wanted to highlight some of our impressive scholars from the previous 2020 scholarship season! This week, we reached out to Emma King, a senior at Heritage Christian School, to learn more about her organization, Carry On, Kids.
Q – Please share a little more information about your specific work/role in Carry On, Kids.
A – The idea for Carry On, Kids was given to me by my cousin. At a family reunion in December of 2018, my uncle told me about how my cousin, Eden, had started a program at her school and church that collected donations for foster. He suggested that I start a similar program at my school. (The name Carry On, Kids derives from the idea that “carry-on” is luggage; many foster children enter the system carrying a trash bag full of belongings, which I believe is dehumanizing to someone already going through a stressful time of life). I presented the idea to my friends, and it took months of planning and meeting with adult staff at our school to put the program in place. Finally, at the beginning of my junior year, my friends and I were able to present the idea at a school assembly. Since then, I’ve been the spokesperson for the project as well as the organizer for collecting donations and finding volunteers. My favorite part of the program has been collecting Christmas presents. My Mom, a regional manager for the National Youth Advocate Program, reminded me that the NYAP Christmas party was coming up, and that I should see if Carry On, Kids could find some sponsors for Christmas presents. I made the announcement to my school, and I received so many sponsors that every child who had needed presents easily received some, even though this was almost a last-minute decision and there wasn’t much time to prepare. This year, I hope to start this project sooner (now that I know about it) and potentially get presents for foster children in other counties. I hope to continue being a part of this project as I go to college, and I’m hoping to expand the work of Carry On, Kids to juvenile detention centers.
Q – What inspired you to be a part of Carry On, Kids?
A – I had been hoping for a big service opportunity: a way to impact the world while I was still in school. When my uncle told me of my 14-year-old cousin’s work in Pennsylvania, collecting donations for foster children, I knew that that was what I needed to do. At the time, my youngest three siblings were still in foster care, and with my mom being a social worker, foster care was something I had heard about nearly my whole life. Foster children have a special place in my heart.
Q – What is one of the most challenging parts of working on this project?
A – The most challenging part of this was how slow the project was at first. In order to establish this project as a nonprofit, organized at my school, there were steps we had to take, and it seemed like after every step we took, there was one we had forgotten about. I was very thankful to have a lot of friends to help me organize this and keep fueling my passion for it. The other most challenging part was feeling like we haven’t done enough. The project still seems pretty new, and it is hard to get people to donate without a specific holiday or purpose, and when COVID hit, there was absolutely nothing we could do to further the project. Because the project still seems new and I want to do more with it, I hope to still lead it as I’m in college.
Q – What has been the most rewarding part of working on this project?
A – The most rewarding part of working on this project has definitely been the Christmas presents collection. That was the moment when I felt like Carry On, Kids was accomplishing something and we had the potential to do even more. Volunteers were assigned a child with a Christmas wish list. The volunteers bought as many of the items as they could find and afford, and then they wrapped them up nicely. One particular boy bought and found every single item on a child’s wish list (which included an Xbox among other things) and when I asked him why he had spent his time and money on this many gifts, he responded, “I just have a soft spot for foster kids.”
Q -Who is one influential person you look up to and why?
A- I look up to Jenni Jessen, a human trafficking survivor, who dedicates her life to helping young women escape from human trafficking. A very high percentage of people in human trafficking have been a part of the foster care system at some point, and I find that her work is very impactful to foster kids as well as those in human trafficking. I hope someday to be as strong and helpful as she is, and maybe I can help with her organization at some point.
Q – What are your goals for the future, not related to Carry On, Kids?
A – I’m hoping to go to college and earn a music education degree so that I can teach middle or high schoolers to play stringed instruments. In addition to being a teacher, I also hope to be a foster parent. I want to foster children of all ages, including teenagers, who seem too often be ignored.
Q – What would you say to motivate younger students to get involved in service work?
A – I think that the first step to getting involved in service work is to find and cultivate a passion for a specific area of service work. For me, my specialty has been foster children, while for others, it may be the homeless, the sick, or the poor. Everyone knows someone in their personal life who has been through something tough, and feeling compassion for that loved one and feeling the drive to help others in similar situations can be a great way to start service work. There are already plenty of organizations that can be found locally for anyone who doesn’t wish to start a project of his or her own. Finding a service activity to do with friends is a great way to make it fun and beneficial to everyone.
Q – Are there any other details that you’d like to include in your spotlight?
A – I want to thank all my friends and family for helping me kick-start and support Carry On, Kids. I’m not just trying to seem humble when I sincerely say that I wouldn’t have been able to do this by myself. Having several brains on the project, including adults at my school, to help has been important and necessary. I also wanted to mention that I come from a family with nine children, three of which have been adopted from the foster care system, and my siblings are some of my best friends.
Want to learn more? Follow @carry.on.kids on Instagram.
Emma’s scholarship is sponsored by The Carson Scholars Fund.
Here are some backpacks that were collected by my school to be given to foster kids. Some are labeled with things like “teen boy” or “10-14 year old girl” so that they can be given to foster children entering the system to make their transitions more comfortable.
Here, my siblings and I are helping some little kids at the NYAP Christmas Party for foster children decorate some cookies.
Here, my siblings and I are performing some music at the NYAP Christmas party. I remember one little girl being really interested in the music, and she sat and listened to us the whole time.
Here, I am holding some bags that were collected by a local church (not through Carry On, Kids). My sister and I helped organize these (there were many, many more) and put them in a closet at the NYAP office.
Here, my sister and I are posing as we organize a closet for clothing donations at the NYAP office. These specific donations weren’t collected by Carry On, Kids, but through Carry On, Kids, we have since collected clothing donations to be put in this very closet.
More photos can be found on our instagram, @carry.on.kids, and I want to recommend
Jenni Jessen’s book, The Lucky One.