​Winter Wonderland promises a magical night

(l-r) Dr. John Baker, Miles McMoore, Trent Page, McKenzie McMoore, Tarran Austin, and Kristian Baker
Photo by Nikki Love

Highschoolers plan event for younger kids and their families

Be the Change (BTC) is making its mark in the community, one school at a time. The local nonprofit organization, co-founded by community leaders John Baker and Houston White, is focused on investing in our youth. 

BTC is proud to be mentors to a passionate group of high school students this year, with the hope that one day these students will be leaders in their communities. This year, BTC Youth will sponsor a holiday event for K-5 students that celebrates joy, family, connection and togetherness as a school community. 

“Last year, BTC started this endeavor by sponsoring a classroom at Nelly Stone Johnson Community School,” recalled Dr. John Baker. This year, BTC plans to sponsor the whole school, which is located in the heart of North Minneapolis.

The school would be decorated to look like a Winter Wonderland. A sit-down dinner prepared by celebrated local youth chefs will be served by high school volunteer teams. Organizers hope that 210 families will enjoy a magical and memorable night that includes games, activities, and a dance party with a whimsical wonderland theme. 

Gifts will be provided for students at every grade level. The students will be able to shop free of charge at the on-site store. They will also be able to take home a non-perishable bag and will receive a grocery gift card for the holiday break. Parents will also receive a gift bag.

The MSR linked up with the first group of BTC mentees to ask what key roles they would play in this event. 

Miles McMoore, a ninth grader at Groves Academy, will oversee contacting the schools to ensure they are aware of BTC and to request donations from Groves. “I started receiving donations last week,” said McMoore, “I joined BTC to help the community.”

Kristian Baker, a 16-year-old sophomore at Blake School, said, “I am focusing on canned goods and hygiene donations from my school. I plan on requesting donations from my school for the Winter Wonderland event we are hosting at NSJ [Nellie Stone Johnson].”

Tarran Austin, a senior at Armstrong High School, said: “We are trying to focus on giving back to the community and the underrepresented in our world.

“We want to transform the school to make it a fun, safe environment for one night. This will give families an opportunity to break away from life’s stress and have a magical event that they can remember forever,” said Austin.

McKenzie McMoore, a 15-year-old attending Benilde-St. Margaret, said: “I’m very excited about this coming event. I’m not only excited for the kids but the parents as well. I spoke at a mass event to inform the students about Be the Change. 

“This will give parents a break and is an opportunity for us to show the parents that the community cares,” said McMoore. “We want to support the kids while they strive. We want them to learn life skills and be able to use them as they grow. 

“Just because they do not have everything they want doesn’t mean they can’t use the opportunities given. I’m excited to be a part of BTC and the Winter Wonderland event!”

Trent Page, a junior at Minnehaha Academy, said: “I’m most excited about working with Be the Change to have a positive impact on the community. We want to be able to be a beacon of hope for people who may not have. 

“Schools provide essential needs for families. My job is to get volunteers to help make the event run as smoothly as possible.”

Be the Change is asking for in-kind donations, sponsors to adopt a family, and volunteers. The Winter Wonderland event will take place on Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2022, from 4-8 pm. For more information, contact bethechangemn.com.

Have an opinion? Share it below.