What is Torch Club?
Torch Club is a Boys & Girls Clubs community service group for middle school youth. The program provides opportunities to gain leadership skills while engaging in the community.
The sixth and seventh graders in the North Seattle and Robert Eagle Staff Torch Club are a diverse group. They gather from many backgrounds and experiences around a shared enthusiasm for making their community a better place for all.
Community Partnership & Engagement
Last year, Robert Eagle Staff Teen Director Tim Batten-King established a relationship with the Rainier Popup Kitchen, a community group donating time and money to supply neighbors with essential resources such as groceries and hygiene products. Every week, volunteers come together to cook and serve hot meals.
This past winter, Torch Club members elevated this partnership by organizing and running their own youth-led events to benefit the popup kitchen.
Motivated by the idea of helping their neighbors, the Torch Club youth hosted a bake sale and organized a collection drive for clothing, hygiene products, and other needed items. It was the biggest donation initiative the popup kitchen had ever seen!
After seeing success from the drive and feeling like they were making a difference, the group organized a day of supplying and serving hot meals at the kitchen.
Leadership & Collaboration
In the weeks leading up to the event, the kids planned the logistics, determined each member’s role, and established how the event would run.
When the day came, the kids were eager for the opportunity to help and hear from the kitchen’s customers.
“We got to serve people who were nice and interesting and had really cool stories to tell,” said Oliver, a Torch Club member.
Being in the kitchen was a new experience for many of the Torch Club members. Tim observed that these youth were comfortable and open in the environment, embracing the people in their community experiencing homelessness and hardship. He reflected: “young people naturally often set the best example for how we should help our neighbors and treat others with respect.”
The Impact of Giving Back
Here's what the kids had to say about the experience:
“It changed my perspective on a lot of things. When I was younger, I didn't know why people were living on the streets and didn't care that much. Now that I've gone and helped them and seen why they're out there and their living style, I feel more compassion for them.”
“I like helping other people and making them happy. Most people wouldn't be so happy to get food and clothes, but it felt really good seeing how important those things were.”
“A lot of times when you walk by a homeless person, you feel sad, but it feels really good to be able to do something to help them.”
“It helped me understand how to show compassion and empathy for people. If we have more in life, we can take what we have and give [those with less] some of it to help things be more equal.”
Torch Club has one more popup kitchen event planned in June. Some other upcoming activities include raising money for a nearby pet rescue, writing positive messages in chalk on the sidewalk around Robert Eagle Staff Middle School, and cleaning up public spaces.