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Summer outreach tradition continues in Benson

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BENSON — Something that has become a summertime tradition in town, Cleo McKinnon’s Four-Leaf Clover program, concluded last week as area children get ready to go back to school.

For the fifth year, on Tuesdays and Thursdays from June to August, McKinnon and her group of Four-Leaf Clover volunteers treat local children to food, games and a time to make friends. This outreach initiative is held at 317 W. Woodall St. at a location called the Community Court.

On Aug. 6, Benson police officers and firefighters spent time with the children, serving them pizza, letting them see fire and police vehicles up close and cool off playing in water sprayed from a firetruck. Also helping out were staff members from the Johnston County Partnership for Children. McKinnon said there were somewhere between 50 and 75 children in attendance.

“The kids had a beautiful time,” McKinnon said, “and I think the adults really did, too.”

The Four-Leaf Clover program operates with the assistance of donations provided by area churches, civic organizations, individuals and businesses. McKinnon said the group also distributes food and sometimes clothing throughout the year. On Wednesdays, members provide hot plates to anyone in the community who would like one.

She stresses this is a community-wide program — the food is available to anyone, not just for the hungry or needy.

“It benefits more by not mentioning the words hungry or needy,” she said, noting oftentimes these two words make people shy away.

“If I had a man come up to me who has a million dollars and say he wanted a hot plate of food, I would give it to him,” McKinnon said.

Some area churches also provide transportation for the children so they may attend the summer program.

This year, McKinnon said the group took kids 12 and older on field trips to the library.

On Thursday, the summer program was set to conclude with a cookout for all the volunteers and sponsors.

“Our volunteers volunteer from their heart,” McKinnon said. “They are awesome.”