Student puts FAITH into ACTION
In December, Trinity High School student Taylor Cuthbertson will visit the seventh horrendous wonder of the world — again.
Taylor, 16, lives in Archdale with her parents Tony and Gayle Cuthbertson and her sister Mary, 13. She is a varsity cheerleader, honor student and member of Fellowship of Christian Students who currently holds the title of Miss Central Carolina Outstanding Teen. Her platform is teen volunteerism.
“There is so much that teenagers can do,” said Taylor.
Taylor has put that belief into action in the Walk For Wishes in Tanglewood, Relay for Life of Davidson County, Kisses for Kate and the Children’s Miracle Network. Last year she helped with the Polar Plunge to raise funds for Special Olympics and baked cookies to deliver to the Ronald McDonald House in Charlotte.
“Taylor is a very energetic young lady,” said Travis Green, business manager for Miss Central Carolina Outstanding Teen. “One thing that I appreciate about her is her willingness to go out into the community and volunteer. She devotes her weekends to impact the lives of children and the elderly. She tries to encourage other teenagers to use their time wisely to make a positive difference.”
Taylor developed a heart for helping people as a middle school student after her involvement with a summer food drive for Community Outreach of Archdale-Trinity. While holding the title of Miss Mecklenburg County Outstanding Teen, Taylor was invited to go on a December, 2011 mission trip to Nicaragua with Amanda Sowers, Miss Mecklenburg County. Amanda’s grandparents operate a World Mission Outreach center in Nicaragua.
“Make sure that you’re going for the right reasons,” said Tony. “This isn’t a trip with your friends.”
During the 10-day trip, Gayle tracked her daughter using a “Find Friend” iPhone application.
“I was worried,” Gayle admitted. “But I figured that she was doing something for God and that He would take care of her.”
While there Taylor visited a mall in Managua, attended a preschool graduation and a traditional wedding. Taylor did encounter a scorpion in her host home, but that was a small thing compared to the horrors of LaChureca.
Mere miles away from Managua is La Chureca, the city’s dump. It is listed as one of 10 horrendous wonders of the world. Surrounded by a high metal fence, it is visited daily by vultures. The landfill is home to more than 2,500 people — 700 of them children.
“People live there in tents,” said Taylor. “When the dump truck brought trash, they would run to it. There was sewage on the ground and bugs everywhere. It was a lot to take in.”
World Mission Outreach operates a church and preschool for 40 children inside La Chureca, in addition to a feeding program for 200 children.
Taylor along with Lindsey Knox and Amanda served food to children who spoke Spanish. Taylor’s heart was touched by one little girl who hung around, but didn’t eat.
“We didn’t provide them with bowls or spoons or anything like that,” said Taylor. “So if they didn’t have a bowl, they didn’t get to eat that day. That just shocked us.”
At the church, Taylor helped to distribute gifts which included Beanie Babies to the children.
“If they don’t live in a house and have trouble getting food, you know they’re not going to get piles of presents,” she said. “If we gave them a teddy bear, that’s probably all they’re going to get.”
Taylor formed friendships with some of the children, particularly one little girl who clung to her.
“Her name was Ruth,” said Taylor. “She just would not let go. She didn’t want us to leave.”
Taylor admits that she came back a changed person.
“I wanted to go because the need is so great,” said Taylor. “I wanted to make a difference. What I didn’t expect is the huge difference it made in me. It was very humbling.”
In the year since her trip, Taylor decided that there was something she could do to ensure that none of the children would go hungry because they didn’t have a bowl.
Taylor is co-founder of a Feeding the Five-Thousand Facebook page, which seeks to collect bowls and spoons for the feeding program in LaChureca. Email AmandaRSowards@aol.com.
She enlisted the help of her church family at Trindale Community Church. True Rock children’s church kids, ages 4 years to fifth grade, collected more than 200 bowls.
“It actually became a churchwide event,” said David Collins, youth pastor. “That was one thing that we could do to fight hunger. Even the young kids got involved. We called it Souper Bowl Sunday.”
Taylor will take the bowls to Nicaragua when she leaves the first week in December. Her next challenge is to raise $1,200 — the cost of her trip.
Those who wish to make a tax deductible donation may visit wmoc.org. Click on Make a Donation in Taylor’s name.
Mail checks to World Mission Outreach, P. O. Box 434, Harrisburg, N.C. 28075. Put Taylor Cuthbertson in the memo line.