By Dan King
Kylie Touchette may be only 12 years old, but she’s dedicated to community service.
This is the fifth year in a row the now 7th grader has done some form of community service during the later portion of the fall months. It is a project that she and her grandmother, Marie Monty, call the “Matthew Project.”
The project is named after the Bible passage Matthew Chapter 25, verses 35-40, which reads: “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’.”
This year, for her “Matthew Project,” Touchette decided to raise funds for the backpack program at Whitehall Elementary School, which is sponsored by the Northeast Regional Food Bank and sends children home with backpacks full of food each Friday afternoon. The backpacks then come back the following week, get re-filled and sent back home the following Friday.
Touchette raised $220 for the program, through donations from friends and family, which is more than the price required to send a backpack home with a child for an entire year. That price is $167.
“It speaks volumes about your character,” Kim Barber, who runs the backpack program, told Touchette last week.
Touchette’s inspiration for this year’s project came from her grandmother.
“When I saw the backpack program in the Whitehall Times, I said to Kylie, ‘Is this something you would want to do for the Matthew Project?’ and she liked the idea,” Monty said.
Touchette said she enjoys doing the Matthew Project and was thankful to all those who helped make it successful each year.
“I’m really thankful to everyone who donated to it,” she said.
Over the years, the Matthew Project has featured various different charitable endeavors. The first year Touchette made doll beds with clementine boxes, the second year she adopted a family, the third year she donated $100 worth of toys to the Whitehall Toys for Tots program and last year she donated $130 worth of groceries to the Whitehall Food Pantry, where she regularly volunteers.
Touchette said that out of all the projects she’s done thus far, the first was her favorite, because it was the most involved.
As for how long she plans on doing the “Matthew Project,” she said she anticipates it going on awhile, and so does her grandmother.
“As long as she’s still interested, we’ll still do it,” Monty said.
“I just like the thought of helping others,” Touchette said.