A 2020-2021 Phillips Alumni Scholar
For 10-year old Kylee McCumber it started with a simple question: why did some of her classmates eat breakfast at school? She was shocked to hear that they didn’t have enough to eat at home, but then worried about what they ate over the weekend. And so was born Kylee’s Kare Kits for Kidz, care packages of food to carry children through the weekend. At first, Kylee’s goal was to help ten food-insecure children each week. She funded her initial efforts through yard sales, but the need grew quickly, and her project expanded through online appeals, food drives, “fill-a-truck” events and corporate sponsorships. An official 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization, it now provides food to 570 children in the Leominster area. Kylee added drives for school supplies and also now provides meals over holiday breaks and through the summer months. Kylee was a frequent speaker throughout the area, as this program requires strong financial and volunteer community support to succeed.
What people didn’t know was that Kylee’s own early history was marked by food insecurity. Until her grandmother became her guardian, her addicted mother could not care for her. In 2016, Kylee’s mother died. “As the word spread about her passing, my community, the same community I had sought to help, was very supportive of me. Many people reached out and shared their stories of losing a loved one to addiction.” This inspired Kylee to finally share the full story of Kylee’s Kare Kits for Kids and why the mission is so close to her heart.
A first-year student at Bentley University now, Kylee is involved in the Women in Business Leadership Program. In her absence, “Kylee’s Kare Kits for Kidz is still running strong. We have created our “Junior Team,” a group of students in 5th-8th grades, who have learned how to pack the Kare Kits and hold fundraisers. One of the members of the Junior Team, Mia, is filling in as the interim “Kylee” while I am away at college.”
Kylee McCumber graduated from The Winchendon School, where she received a scholarship for her service to others. As a four-year Service Learning Leader, she led a group that focused on food justice throughout the area. While at Winchendon, she helped earn a grant for $100,000 to partner with Tufts University on a hunger initiative for the elderly, which will be expanded to single-parent homes. Kylee is clearly living the credo that “regardless of your age, if you are passionate about an issue, you can take action and make real change.”