The Red Barn Youth Center has a brand new freezer, thanks to the women of the local chapter of Beta Sigma Phi sorority.

One of the three objectives of the international women’s sorority is to be of service, according to Vaughn-area resident Cheryl Prante. Prante is one of several Beta Sigma Phi members who call the Key Peninsula home.

“I watched the Red Barn being built and then started reading about it in the paper and I got very curious,” Prante said. “When I found out they needed donations, I’d periodically take things there.”

Then it occurred to Prante that the sorority sisters might like to know about the good things happening at the Red Barn, so she invited Red Barn Executive Director Laura Condon to speak at a Beta Sigma Phi meeting.

It was just before Christmas and Condon told the group that the Red Barn “always needs donations of food to feed the kids. And I also mentioned that we needed a place to store food,” Condon said. “The next thing I knew they had worked a deal with Home Depot and purchased a freezer for us.”

“When Laura talked to us at that December meeting it just touched our heartstrings,” Prante said.

“We’ve all been mothers and we all wished there had been something like the Red Barn for our kids when they were young. So we decided to take this on as a project. We’re trying to help the new generation,” she said.

Carolyn Mitchell, a 50-year Beta Sigma Phi member from Raft Island, credits Prante with procuring the freezer donation.

“She went to several places including Home Depot and she was able to get Home Depot to give us a great deal,” Mitchell said. “They just bent over backwards for us. This was an $800 freezer that they gave to us for about $300. And they even delivered it for us. It was a little bit damaged on one side, but they checked everything out and it’s working just fine.”

The Red Barn isn’t Beta Sigma Phi’s first Key Peninsula project. The sorority also underwrites a scholarship for Evergreen Elementary to help fifth graders attend the yearly two-day outdoor and environmental education camp at Camp Seymour. They also donate school supplies and personal items for Evergreen kids who need those things, Mitchell said.

“We know the need on the Key Peninsula is so great, and if we as human beings, if we see a need God always gives us ways to help fill the needs,” Prante added.

To help fill that need a little more, in late January Beta Sigma Phi made a cash donation of $500 to the Red Barn.

“They’re doing such good things,” Prante said. “I really encourage people to drop in and see what they’re doing at the Red Barn –– talk to some of the kids. It’s not just for fun, they’re also making time for the kids to do their homework and they can even learn to cook. It’s a good place where kids can go and be with other kids their age. And the high school kids are mentoring them.

“If anybody has any free time, I really encourage them to donate it to the Red Barn to help. There’s always something somebody can do,” she said.

As for Executive Director Laura Condon, “When we delivered that freezer to her, she literally cried,” Prante said.

For information visit redbarnkp.org or call (253) 884-1594. To learn more about Beta Sigma Phi, email SpecialKay@centurytel.net or lynnlester@centurytel.net.

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