Backyard benefit

Jillian, 10, Silas, 4, and Marlo Morgan, 6, researched, planned and coordinated the Kid Olympics all in their backyard Aug. 4. The kids raised enough money to provide more than 7,500 lunches for kids in Tanzania.

With the hype of the 2012 summer Olympics leading up to the opening ceremonies July 27, all eyes were on London. But for the Morgan family, their eyes were on Africa.

The Morgans, Jon Michael and Sarah, wanted their three kids to be servant leaders this summer.

A new tradition that Morgan hopes to continue in summers to come, she thought it was important her kids learn a valuable lesson during break from school; a lesson that would help change the world in a small way.

“We started by wanting our family to do a summer service project. The idea was to teach the kids this lesson, that when you want to make money, you decide what you love doing and what you’re good at,” Sarah Morgan said. “They said they were good at throwing parties.”

Inspired by the summer games, the kids, Jillian, 10, Marlo, 6, and Silas, 4, came up with the idea to throw an Olympics party filled with friendly competition, food and fun – all for kids.

But their vision was even greater; at the heart of their party was the idea to help children not so different from themselves. What seemed a world away didn’t stop the Morgan’s from raising $700 to help provide lunch for kids in Tanzania.

The Morgan’s party, which took place during the heart of the London Olympic games Aug. 4, benefited The Lunch Project, a local nonprofit that provides long-term financial support to enable Tanzanian mothers to cook and serve a nutritional meal to schoolchildren in Tanzanian primary schools. The organization believes with a hot lunch, Tanzanian children will be better equipped to learn.

“It’s such a simple and beautiful idea where they provide lunch for 950 kids in Tanzania,” Sarah Morgan said. “They walk miles and miles to school, a lot of times on an empty stomach.”

“And The Lunch Project is so accessible to kids,” she added. “Eighty-five dollars will feed kids lunch for a day. I thought we could make a huge impact there.”

The family hosted the Olympics right in their backyard, where 24 children competed on three different teams: Tanzania, Ethiopia and Kenya. Jillian, Marlo and Silas helped create kid-friendly versions of Olympic competitions, such as tricycle races in place of cycling, Frisbee throw for the discus throw and the backyard dash.

“We brainstormed for weeks of how they could make (the Olympic events) kid-sized,” Sarah Morgan said. “They learned so much in the process – they learned about Olympics, the different African countries, they learned about how many different Olympians were from each country.”

For Jillian, a fourth-grader at Sharon Elementary School, her favorite part was bringing together her friends and neighbors for a good time.

“And it was fun helping The Lunch Project,” Jillian said. “If we help raise enough money, the kids in Tanzania might get lunch for three days.”

Right now, The Lunch Project only provides food for two days of the week, Sarah Morgan said, but is working to expand to three days.

And for the Morgan’s, summer service projects may become a new annual summer adventure.

“It’s a new family tradition for sure. I’ve thought about it before, but this year was the first time the kids could really do it themselves and take ownership over it,” Sarah Morgan said. “It’s just amazing to me how much of an impact one family can make. All of those kids are going to eat because of this. It just fills my heart.”

For more information on The Lunch Project, visit the organization’s website at http://thelunchproject.org.

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