Norfield aims to teach Weston youth the value of compassion

Norfield youth group members who participated in the 30-hour famine from left to right: Lucy Fine, Anna Cross, Luke Lerner, Leila Troxell, Julia Morledge, Casey Lerner, Chris Burns and Maddie Hensinger.

Norfield youth group members who participated in the 30-hour famine from left to right: Lucy Fine, Anna Cross, Luke Lerner, Leila Troxell, Julia Morledge, Casey Lerner, Chris Burns and Maddie Hensinger.

The Rev. Kelly Hough Rogers thinks it’s crucial for young people in Weston to step out of their comfort zone to help others.

“We’re a very fortunate community,” she said. “One of the biggest values we promote is helping others who aren’t as fortunate.”

Rogers, who has been the associate minister of children, youth and families at Norfield Church since August 2011, runs a variety of youth groups for all different ages. There is a group for third to fifth graders, one for sixth through eighth graders and one for high school students.

Each group meets throughout the year to plan and execute “service learning” projects, which Rogers says are how kids directly help those less fortunate than they are.

The groups are interfaith and not exclusive to members of Norfield Church.

“We actively try to include kids from the greater community,” she said. “All are welcome and I think the kids understand that — they’ll often bring friends to help out.”

Recently, a group of students participated in a 30-hour famine to raise money for two organizations, World Vision and Nurturing Minds, both of which work to alleviate hunger in poor countries.

The fast began at 7 a.m. on Friday, Feb. 24, and lasted 30 hours, until midday on Saturday, Feb. 25. The fast was broken with an assortment of foods, including egg casseroles, homemade mac and cheese, bagels, fruit, and brownies.

The group did some fund raising outside Peter’s Market on Saturday morning and raised nearly $5,000 for the causes, substantially higher than its goal of $1,500.

Anne Troxell, whose daughter Leila participated in the fast, said her daughter has participated in three fasts in a row.

“Leila took the fast very seriously,” said Troxell. “She was adamant that she fully experience what it felt like to not have food to eat.”

Middle school-aged students have been participating in the 30-hour fast at Norfield for a decade, and it is one of the primary ways that age group makes money for others.

Another longstanding youth group tradition is the Midnight Run, done by high school students.

“The Midnight Run helps unsheltered homeless people in New York City,” said Rogers. “We caravan into New York with socks, shoes, clothes, food, and anything else homeless people may need.”

This year’s midnight run will take place on Friday, March 31. While high schoolers will be the ones going to New York, Rogers said, students of all ages are helping collect items for the homeless.

Mission trip

Each year, a group of high schoolers takes a mission trip to help people around the country. Previous mission trips have gone to New Orleans and Washington, D.C., and this year the group will be going to Baltimore to help area homeless people and do environmental justice work.

“We started mission trips a few years back and the first one we did had seven people,” said Rogers. “We had 40 kids last year and about the same amount confirmed for this year.”

To go on a mission trip, participants must have completed their freshman year of high school. Each trip costs between $500 to $800 to attend.

Gray Troxell, who has gone on previous mission trips, recently organized a “cake walk” so he could raise funds to participate in this year’s trip.

A cake walk fund-raiser combines a raffle with musical chairs. Participants buy a ticket to walk the cake walk, which is series of numbers laid out in a circle, in time to music.

When the music stops, the person standing on the winning drawn number gets to select a cake of his or her choice from a table of cakes baked by members of the youth group. Gray raised enough money to fund more than half his trip.

Rogers encourages anyone who wants to get involved in the youth groups to email her at [email protected]

“Weston is kind of a sports-oriented community, but I don’t think sports are the only way to build a successful person,” she said. “It’s important to engender compassion and a love of serving others to children. Having opportunities to learn empathy leads to well-rounded people.”

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