By Sheena Barnett
TUPELO – North Mississippi teens are working toward a brighter future for the area.
Members of the Northeast Mississippi Youth Foundation gave more than $3,000 in grants to seven nonprofit organizations at a news conference on Sunday afternoon.
Each of the organizations chosen by the youths was awarded $462.71, and Coats for Kids in Benton County received a donation of coats and jackets collected by NEMYF members.
The nonprofits that received donations are Helping Hands Helping Homeless in Tupelo; Project Homestead of Clay County; Okolona Community Dollars for Scholars; the Chickasaw County Soccer Association; Excel by 5 in Pontotoc; World Changers in Columbus; and Koon’s Care Free Clinic in Ripley.
“I like that we can leave a mark in our communities, to help them out the best way we can and leave a legacy,” said NEMYF president Caleb Warren, a senior from Pontotoc.
The group, made up of 11th- and 12th-graders from 13 different counties across the region, raised money this year to give to the charities. Since NEMYF was established by CREATE in 2001, the members have built an endowment fund to more than $100,000 and have already given out nearly $30,000 to communities.
The soccer association uses the grant money to provide scholarships for needy families or those with multiple children, said Carol Byrne. The soccer association has received funds from NEMYF in the past.
“This has benefited a lot of children,” Byrne told the NEMYF members.
William East with Project Homestead, a food pantry in West Point, said the pantry has grown thanks to donations like those made by NEMYF.
“I cannot express deeply enough my thanks to CREATE, NEMYF and you young people for your commitment to reach out to feed the hungry and desperate in Clay County,” he said.
Dollars for Scholars’ John Standfield thanked the youth foundation for helping their fellow high school students continue their education.
East also represented World Changers, a group for young disciples, and said the money will go toward fixing the homes of the needy.
“Because of you and your foundation, you will change the physical life of people,” he said, “and you’ll also change their spiritual life. You may change a life eternally with this money.”