Jewish Family Services honors graduating Barstow senior who has volunteered at food pantry since she was a child

From a young age, Leawood resident and Barstow School graduating senior Susanna King (right) has spent many hours volunteering for the Jewish Family Services Food Pantry. “It’s less of what I get out of it and more of how can I help someone else,” she said. Above, King helps out at a food drive during the COVID-19 pandemic in December 2020. Photo courtesy Jewish Family Services of Greater Kansas City.

For more than half of her life, Leawood resident Susanna King has dedicated time and energy toward giving to the Jewish Family Services Food Pantry.

The daughter of Chad King and Amanda Morgan, King is a graduating senior at The Barstow School in Kansas City, Mo., and she is preparing to attend Brandeis University in Boston this all.

As King prepares for this next chapter in life, Jewish Family Services of Greater Kansas City wanted to honor her by naming her Volunteer of the Month this May.

For one of her birthdays, King gave Jewish Family Services 70 toys instead of receiving birthday presents. Photo courtesy Jewish Family Services of Greater Kansas City.

“Susanna has touched the lives of so many in the various programs that she has volunteered in,” said Taly Friedman, director of volunteer engagement with the organization. “From collecting gifts for Hanukkah to helping JFS launch the Sunshine Card program for her Bat Mitzvah to providing support for older adults through JFS’ Calling Connections program this past year, JFS and our community have been so fortunate to have Susanna’s smile, positivity and helping hands.”

Volunteering since she was a child

From a young age, King remembers her mother bringing her to the food pantry to learn how to help others.

“She taught me the values of tikkun olam [repairing the world] when I was very little,” King said. “As I got older, I knew that I wanted to participate in giving back on my own terms.”

King took those early experiences and followed up with organizing a toy drive in third grade and, later on, a Bat Mitzvah project to benefit the food pantry.

That project involved delivering food to homebound clients for the pantry, as well as organizing an activity at a local summer camp to create personal notes and holiday cards for homebound clients.

King will graduate from The Barstow School and pursue higher education at Brandeis University in Boston. Photo courtesy Jewish Family Services of Greater Kansas City.

“Volunteering helps me connect to the message of tikkun olam, which has really guided me through my Jewishness,” King said. “I think that’s what started me to volunteer and in part leads me to continue volunteering.”

Continued through a busy high school career

During her high school years, King also continued to serve at the food pantry, even during the COVID-19 pandemic when the food pantry pivoted to a drive-through format last year.

She also helped film a video of the food pantry to help share its story of serving clients amid a global crisis. The food pantry has served as many as 900 families a month during the pandemic.

“It’s less of what I get out of it and more of how can I help someone else,” King said. “Maybe it’s finding the brand of soup they like or just sharing a smile. I really just want to make sure clients have the dignity of experience with JFS they’re looking for at the pantry.”

King has also served as president of Barstow’s Ambassadors Team, played varsity soccer and performed on the school’s varsity dance team.

She also founded and serves as president of Barstow’s Jewish Student Union.

King said she “100%” recommends volunteering for the JFS food pantry.

Anyone interested can contact the volunteer engagement team at (913) 730-1410 or volunteer@jfskc.org.