At Port Allen Middle School, a program called SPARK, Student Program for Arts, Recreation and Knowledge, motivates young students to come up with and suggest changes to their schools.
This school year, one student’s idea earned him a $10,000 donation for his program.
Chase Neyland-Square, a philanthropist in the making, came up with the idea of PAMS Pantry to provide “donated clothes and we give them to students and grownups who are in need.”
That comment was made in an interview on the school’s entire SPARK program in August, which includes about a half a dozen other students, each with their own ideas.
Neyland-Square’s idea, though, caught the attention of the national media and earned him a spot on ABC’s “Good Morning America” program in New York City. He said the network first contacted his parents and his teacher.
“They brought us there on an airplane for free, they got us a car to drive us to the hotel and back,” he said. “They paid for everything over three days.”
“We got there on a Monday, the program was Tuesday and we came back home late Wednesday,” Neyland-Square said, adding he and his family had enough time to do some sightseeing.
He said they saw the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, Central Park and most of the other tourist attractions, but what seemed to impress him the most was getting to go to the New York Jets game against the Cleveland Browns.
Neyland-Square said he had a specific purpose in mind when he accepted the invitation to appear on TV. And it was “amazing” to him that the appearance led to a $10,000 donation to PAMS Pantry.
“It’s very amazing because we were just going up there to show that our school may be small but even small schools can do good things,” he said. “Small schools can do good things too.”
Just 13, but quick to remind anyone he’ll be 14 at the end of the month, Neyland-Square had already been into charity before the pantry.
“I have a sock drive every year at Christmas,” he said, adding it the drive is done in coordination with the charitable organization It Takes A Village.
“Then at Christmas, I go to the nursing homes in the area with socks and peppermints for them,” Neyland-Square said.
“I just always enjoy giving back to people because it makes me happy when it gives people a smile,” he said.