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First lady Teresa Parson has created a new program from a pair of admirable goals: Guiding youth toward public service, while helping to unite Missourians.

As we previously reported, the CommUNITY Service Challenge calls on the state's elementary students to spend time this summer engaging in community service. With the help of their parents, youths can choose four service categories to complete out of a total of eight, which are then recorded on a service log and sent to the Office of the First Lady by Aug. 1.

The eight categories are: care for the food-insecure, encourage essential workers, show kindness to the elderly, support foster children and families, thank first responders, honor veterans and servicemen and women, uplift the homeless, and free choice (use your creativity).

Parson said the idea for the service initiative developed out of the COVID-19 pandemic as a way to bring people and communities together after the long, isolating experience.

She credited her staff, particularly Chief of Staff Emma Vincent, with working out the details of the program.

Participation in the challenge has exceeded Parson's expectations. She and her staff hoped to reach 500 participants. As of last Wednesday, 626 people across 87 of the state's 114 counties were registered.

Each successful participant will be rewarded with a certificate of recognition from the first lady.

She said she and her husband, Gov. Mike Parson, talk to their grandchildren about the importance of public service.

"I hope that this will help introduce children to the value of helping and uplifting their neighbors and their community workers, and by doing that, they'll strengthen the spirit of generosity in their own lives," Parson said.

Parson has based all of her initiatives around children and families, and we applaud her for her work. We hope she inspires Missourians to participate in this latest challenge, which will help to instill the desire among future generations to serve their communities.

To learn more about the program or to register, visit firstlady.mo.gov/kids.

News Tribune

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