A Twist on Tradition
Sep 07, 2016 10:08AM ● Published by Ashley Pape
By Amy Reisner
Since the 1960s, or we’d even venture to say since the dawn of Texas high school football, the creation and adornment of homecoming mums and garters has been a tradition that has grown to gargantuan proportions. It’s become a case of whose spirit is greater based merely on the size of the corsage. But growth comes at a cost. In the 1960s, one could purchase a mum for about three bucks. Today, mums are mammoth in size and price. These floral embellishments can run suitors (or their parents) hundreds of dollars each fall. But as difficult as the investment may be, it just seems wrong to mess with high school traditions—especially in Texas. Unless you are someone like Destiny Rose. A recent graduate of Carroll Senior High School, Destiny, 18, decided to make a small change to the long-standing homecoming mum tradition. Much to her surprise, Southlake embraced the change and many other Metroplex communities have since followed.
ONE MUM AT A TIME
In September 2013, Destiny had an epiphany. “I was sitting at the breakfast table with my mom talking about potential garter ideas for my homecoming date,” she recalls. “We were conversing about the start of the mum tradition and how elaborate it is now—especially in the DFW area. I randomly blurted out, ‘Mom, would it be weird if I didn’t have a mum at homecoming?’” Destiny could tell her mother, Angie, was in agreement, but intrigued by her question. “Maybe instead of taking part in the [homecoming] tradition, we could take the money that would be used to make or buy the mums and garters and donate it to Youth World,” Destiny says. For the past seven years, Destiny, her mom, and Destiny’s younger sister, Chaney, 15, have been involved in Youth World, a nonprofit that, among other projects, sponsors programs to fight childhood hunger in South Dallas. With her mom’s blessing and support, Destiny asked her date and two other friends to participate. She had four T-shirts made for them to wear to the 2013 Southlake Carroll homecoming game that read: Instead of a mum, we donated the money to feed families at Youth World. Mumz4Kidz (as the project became known circa 2014) raised $800 that inaugural year in 2013. The money was then used to feed 16 families Thanksgiving dinner. Students can make the $50 minimum contribution to feed one family, and if they are moved to give more, students may donate the amount they would have spent on a mum or garter, which ranges between $300 and $1,500, according to Destiny. Students who make a monetary donation receive a T-shirt in their school colors to wear to their homecoming game. Ribbons are provided for drill team and band members who must wear their uniforms to the game.There’s also an option for students to volunteer. Mumz4Kidz has a student ambassador program that allows students to be the face of the program at his or her school. Close to home, Brooks Ragsdale, a recent graduate of Carroll Senior High School, became involved with the program in fall 2015 during his senior year, serving as a Mumz4Kidz ambassador to Carroll’s marching band program. “Seeing what Mumz4Kidz accomplished in the first two years, I was amazed at the progress and purpose of this project,” Brooks says. “The founders had an incredible heart, and they impacted so many families in need.” But the organization’s volunteering and donation program goes beyond Southlake’s borders. Tristynn Cox was a junior at Flower Mound High School in fall 2014 when she first heard of Mumz4Kidz. “My strong desire to lend a helping hand to my commu-nity led me to become involved with Mumz4Kidz,” Tristynn says. “The people involved in this project are such sincere, kind people who are willing to go above and beyond to help people in need. Being a part of this organization is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.” In 2015, 31 student ambassadors from 18 schools (includ-ing Southlake Carroll) participated in the project. Destiny hopes more Metroplex schools will embrace the program this year. Ambassadors are vital to the organization. “I know there are teenagers who want to do something bigger than themselves—something that helps others,” Destiny says. “We can do more than we think, but it requires action!”
ONE CAUSE, ONE COMMUNITY
During distribution time at Youth World, all of the students are invited to participate. Families in need receive a hot meal and are given enough groceries to last a family of six for one week. “It is so fun to see kids come together in their school colors for the single purpose of helping families in need,” Angie says. “We have schools that compete on the field but come together to serve.” The Thanksgiving event always focuses on much more than the traditional turkey, vegetables and pie. Students and volunteers spend time with families and often pray with them before they go home. “Seeing how thankful they were for things that I take for granted every single day was extremely humbling, and it makes me appreciate everything I have in life,” Tristynn says.
A BRIGHT FUTURE AHEAD
Over the last three years, Mumz4Kidz has raised more than $44,000. In 2015 alone, the project raised $30,000, which was used to feed 300 families at Thanksgiving and 200 families at Christmas. The organization raises funds not only through student donations, but also company sponsorships. In 2015, 19 corporate sponsors including Target, Pappas, E. Leigh’s and Top Golf contributed to the mission. To date, 18 schools and 21 corporate sponsors have supported Mumz4Kidz, and Destiny prays this number continues to rise. “The more students and sponsors supporting the program means less kids going hungry over holiday breaks,” Destiny says. “When these kids aren’t in school, they aren’t being fed by the lunch program. These kids need [these funds].” Since Destiny graduated from Carroll Senior High School in June and is attending Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego, she will not take part in the fundraising portion of the project this year. But there’s no way she’d miss Dragon homecoming. “I’m excited to come back and see all of the individuals who have donated and helped those kiddos,” Destiny says. “But this will be my first year in the past seven that I will not be volunteering at Youth World’s Thanksgiving distribution.” However, Destiny is confident in passing on the torch to her younger sister, Chaney. “I have no doubt that Mumz4Kidz is being left in good hands,” she says. “Chaney has a compassionate heart for people—young, elderly, poor, wealthy, and everyone in between.” Obviously a spirit of giving must run in the family, and those are pretty good genes to inherit. “How exciting to think about this generation could be known as the generation of change, of selflessness and of courage,” Destiny says. “An immense number of young people are questioning their duty on earth. Maybe, just maybe, this is the first step.”