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“Do something that is important:” Kids as young as toddlers learn the value of volunteering

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MILWAUKEE -- Even a one-year-old can make a difference! That's why toddlers and kids from Milwaukee's north shore suburbs are volunteering in the inner city.

 Toddlers and Kids on a Mission

Toddlers and Kids on a Mission

The library at MPS' Thurston Woods Elementary School was alive with excitement Thursday, November 10th -- with kids from totally different worlds.

"In Milwaukee, we know it is one of the most segregated cities in the country and we're working really hard to build those bridges," said Lynn Raines, co-director of Toddlers and Kids on a Mission.

 Toddlers and Kids on a Mission's "reading buddies program" includes students from Thurston Woods who are learning from reading to much younger children. The younger children volunteer their time.

"I like to teach them strategies and help them learn so that when they grow up they will be an excellent reader," said Kamonie Ford, fifth-grade student.

 Toddlers and Kids on a Mission

Toddlers and Kids on a Mission

"Volunteering means helping or going to do something that is important," said seven-year-old Ronan Heffernan.

 Toddlers and Kids on a Mission

Toddlers and Kids on a Mission

Toddlers and Kids on a Mission started with just two moms. Over the last two years, the organization has grown so much they have had more than 120 families participate.

From schools to assisted living facilities, Toddlers and Kids on a Mission provides volunteer opportunities for kids of all ages in the metro-Milwaukee area.

"We do believe that no matter how small they are, they can give back," said Raines.

 Toddlers and Kids on a Mission

In this case, Thurston Woods students are gaining more than literacy skills.

 Toddlers and Kids on a Mission

Toddlers and Kids on a Mission

"They're building that capacity to teach others how to be leaders and just being kind to one another," said Felice Beal, Principal at Thurston Woods.

And this program is creating an opportunity to overcome racial barriers.

"I think it just builds that connection that we need in the city to unify it more," said Beal.

Toddlers and Kids on a Mission says most organizations accept volunteers age eight and older. But they have no age restrictions.