OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — Seven recent high school graduates from both the Kansas and Missouri sides of the Kansas City metropolitan area will head off to college this fall with some peace of mind, as the nonprofit Giving Hope and Help awarded them each with a scholarship Thursday night.
Skye Marie Taylor, a Lee’s Summit High School alumna who plans to pursue nursing at Southern University and A&M College in Baton Rouge, was among the recipients.
“It’s going to help me grow into a stronger person to help the whole world one day,” Taylor said of the scholarship.
The financial gift also includes laptops, bedding, hygiene kits, a backpack and more. This is the seventh year Giving Hope and Help has awarded the scholarships. In that time, it has awarded 79 total scholarships, including four full-rides to Metropolitan Community College - Penn Valley.
“We’re just excited to meet these needs and advocate for higher education,” said Jessica McClellan, founder of Giving Hope and Help. Thursday, she awarded two additional cash scholarships worth $500 each in honor of her paternal grandparents and maternal grandmother.
A commitment to education runs in her family. Her great-grandfather, Robert McCallop, created a bus service to take Black children in Johnson County to high school in Wyandotte County before integration allowed Black students to attend high school in Johnson County. His face is part of mural inside Shawnee City Hall.
“The legacy is from slavery to school buses to scholarships,” McClellan said.
But her work doesn’t stop there. Giving Hope and Help has three missions – the “education is your passport” scholarships; collect and distribute feminine hygiene products; and provide “LOVE Bags” to cancer patients.
Taylor, the scholarship recipient, said this help came at a crucial time. In recent years, four of her close relatives have died.
“I thank this organization,” she said. “It’s going to help me persevere once again.”
The organization, according to McClellan, is working to preserve itself after a hit and run car crash in May totaled the organization’s vehicle. She said they are asking for donations to help replace the vehicle and keep the scholarship and other programs thriving. Information on how to donate is available on the organization’s website.
Giving Hope and Help is a finalist for the Kansas City People's Choice Award for best community organization. The winner will be announced on Sunday, Aug 8.
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