Members of the South Johnston High School football team’s leadership council joined forces with a local nonprofit to bring a little enjoyment to a group of kids in Benson.
For the last three years Four Leaf Clover has been overseeing providing meals for Benson children during their summer break from school.
Every Tuesday and Thursday from June until the start of school looms, the kids are treated to food, games, fellowship and just an overall good time at what founder Cleo McKinnon has named Community Court.
“They’re interacting with the children and showing them one day they can grow up and be football players too,” she said. “These guys didn’t just get here, they had to work their way on the team. Now, they’re motivating our kids.”
Ms. McKinnon said bringing other groups, such as the police and fire departments — who will be hosting a cookout Thursday — as well as the football team and others, gives the kids motivation and the chance to explore things other than just playing.
“I just thought it would be grand for the children as well as the football players to have this kind of interaction,” she said. “This will give them something to look toward. And it’s good for the football players to get into the community, it’s a share-share situation.”
The football Trojans joined Thursday’s activities to share a little fun time with the children. In addition to help them hone their skills in sports, the players were assisting with arts and crafts, reading and just talking and playing.
South Johnston coach Matt Rigby said the players involved in Thursday’s event were members of the team’s leadership council. One requirement is community service.
“This gives them a chance to interact with the community and this is part of their community service,” he said. “These young men are the leaders of the team and they are out here getting to interact with the kids and hopefully get something more out of this.”
Children in the program, which has anywhere from 45 to 55 participants each day, get a good meal during the summer and get to benefit from the influence of visitors to the Community Court. They also get a chance to meet and play with children from other parts of Benson.
“They get to meet each other when during the summer they might not,” said Four Leaf Clover longtime volunteer Beverly Lynn Coggeshall. “We get some of the kids from the other side of town, so they get to see each other again.”
Four Leaf Clover doesn’t have boundaries for participants. It includes children from all areas of the community and brings them all together.
“I think it does a lot for all the children,” Ms. Coggeshall said. “We have nothing on this side of town so it brings kids who have nowhere to go or who are bored together and gives them a good meal and something to do.”
There are several important partners who help with Four Leaf Clover’s efforts. The Optimist Club of South Johnston and Johnston County Schools also play a role.
The club supplied the main course of the day’s meal — pizza from Pizza Hut in Benson — to make sure everyone had an afternoon that included a full tummy.
“We’ve had this here for three years now and the Optimists this year got doubly active in it,” said Mayor Jerry Medlin, who is also a member of the Optimist Club of South Johnston. “We’re using the Benson Methodist Church bus to bring the kids over here and we’re supplying them with several other items they’re using for the kids.”