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Mesa Youth Leadership Academy has fun-filled day at MFB Arizona

Give a group of energetic teenagers some paint brushes, and before you know it, a project is done.

That's what happened this summer when about 30 police officers and teens, ages 14-18, from the Mesa Youth Leadership Academy volunteered at Midwest Food Bank Arizona. The group painted the curbing, parking lines, and safety zones at MFB's parking lot.

"These teenagers were ready for their day, armed with a positive attitude and servant mindset," says Merilee Baptiste, Executive Director of MFB Arizona. "While we were thanking them for their help, they were thanking us for a fun-filled day."

The Mesa Youth Leadership Academy is a two-week summer program at the Mesa Police and Fire Training Facility. It combines classroom instruction, physical and mental agility tests, leadership skills, and service. This program isn't just for students interested in law enforcement. It's also geared at helping students become leaders in their schools and communities.

There was a little fun, too, as the group finished a hot morning with ice cream, donuts, and a water balloon fight. MFB Arizona has an ongoing relationship with the Mesa Police Department.

"Midwest Food Bank has assisted us with ensuring that the families we serve are given food boxes," says Nicole Torrez, Community Relations, Mesa Police Department. "We can't thank you enough for helping us serve the Mesa community in this manner."

One of the key strengths of MFB is the many volunteers that come through our doors to help us complete various tasks. In 2021, across the MFB organization, over 25,000 volunteers completed nearly 318,000 hours of service. That is the equivalent of 158 paid staff members. 

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