Each holiday season, TKC sends out four reporters to speak with four students at KHS. (Elena Sherwood)
Each holiday season, TKC sends out four reporters to speak with four students at KHS.

Elena Sherwood

Helping Hands

November 20, 2019

For the fourth year in a row, TKC has decided to tackle the Helping Hands project (formerly known as Four Neediest Cases), inspired by St. Louis Post Dispatch’s 100 Neediest Cases features. Each holiday season, TKC sends out four reporters to speak with four students at KHS. These students have told TKC about their families’ stories and needs. Below are their anonymous features with an attached list of items the families or individuals could use, but cannot afford otherwise. Even a contribution as small as one dollar goes a long way. Donations will be collected in South – 162 Journalism (SJ) and the main office. In addition, TKC will also be collecting monetary donations online–here. All donations are welcome and appreciated.


Helping Hands: Moving


Elena Sherwood

With everything going on in their life, it’s difficult for them to find time for themselves. 

Pink headphones and a bundle of necklaces lay around their neck. Their eyes are bright, despite barely sleeping last night. They give off the brightest smile even though the past year has been draining. They started the year at their grandma’s house, where their five-member family was crammed into one bedroom, all the while enduring their Grandma’s emotional abuse. Since then, their family has been living in Airbnbs and hotels, where they stay for a month or less before moving to another location. 

“Now that we’ve moved everywhere, I’m used to it, and I shouldn’t be,” they said. “We don’t even know where we’re going next.”

Despite the constant change in their family’s location, they still find time for schoolwork and band. Education is important to them and they do as much homework as they can, but with the constant stress of being homeless, some days they find themselves not being able to finish all their assignments. 

“I already have anxiety and depression, and I’ve become more stressed [since the moves],” they said. “In the Airbnbs, I [sometimes] have my own room, but I find myself not being able to do most of my homework.” 

Through marching band, they’ve made several friends and found a love for music. They’ve been playing since fifth grade and are practically self-taught. During the year they started band they lived in the city and when transportation became difficult, they had to stop going to morning practice. Despite that setback, they kept playing and were able to be in band class in sixth grade. 

“[Outside of marching band I listen to] Panic! At The Disco and artists on Youtube,” they said. “My friend sent me a [Panic!] song and I checked out their other songs. They’re pretty cool.” 

Their life is exhausting. They sometimes have to take a day or two off of school to sleep and catch up on schoolwork. During their days off they also spend their time playing video games as a way to unwind. With everything going on in their life, it’s difficult for them to find time for themselves. 

“I’ve become more resilient,” they said. “[Moving] is really stressful and it’s impacting me in a lot of ways, but I’m just going with the flow.”


Monetary donations
New phone (T-Mobile compatible)
Gift cards
Digital sports watch
Barbie Dream House
Nintendo 3DS
Microphone with 3.5mm headphone jack
Bendy and the Ink Machine for Nintendo Switch
Splatoon 2
Pokémon sword and shield

Helping Hands: Music


Elena Sherwood

Whether they are playing video games with their younger brother or taking their little sister trick or treating, they are there for their siblings.

To them, music is everything. They have always loved it. They know how to play the flute and alto saxophone, and they taught themselves how to play the piano. They know how to read music, and they are saving up for a guitar so they can learn how to play. They dream of someday going into the music industry. 

“I asked my mom, ‘If I were to start a music career, would you support me?’” they said. “She said, ‘Why not?” so, I might do that.”

They love art and drawing. They are considering becoming involved with the choir and theater program at KHS. They are talented, but they are equally humble. 

Right now, their biggest stressor is getting to school. After a rough first month this school year, they transitioned into attending school for half days and taking classes online. 

“I am trying to get a job,” they said. “I want to get a car, or fix up a car. I don’t want to take the bus anymore.” 

They like to hang out with their friends and play with their two dogs, a puppy and a mutt. They are looking forward to the track season this spring. 

They are a loving and involved sibling. Whether they are playing video games with their younger brother or taking their little sister trick or treating, they are there for their siblings and ready to be the best role model they can be. And it’s showing, their little sister is learning how to play the viola, following in their musical footsteps. 



Person A
Hobby Lobby/Michael’s gift card
Amazon gift cards
Assorted gift cards

Person B
Nike clothing (for teen male)
Downtown Kirkwood gift cards
Assorted gift cards

Person C
Xbox One controller
Xbox One games
Clothes (size 10 youth, male)

Person D
Big Lego set
Hobby Lobby/Michael’s gift card
Assorted gift cards

Person E
“Big girl” toys
Clothes (size 12/14 youth, female)

Person F
Grocery store gift card
Walmart/Target gift card
Massage gift card

Helping Hands: Family


Elena Sherwood

They realized early in their life just how important family was to them.

They realized early in their life just how important family was to them, after many hardships and emotional experiences they realized that family always sticks by you.  Starting 2019 they were involved heavily in crew productions and working at a local summer camp throughout their high school career. 

They were living with their mother and brother. They had a consistent schedule at school and home. Their life was looking up. 

After a sudden loss of a close family member, life became more complicated. The unexpected turn in their life led them to move into a house with a family friend until their family could figure out the next step. 

They are slowly healing, returning to school for half of the day and working on improving their grades with extra support from KHS. They do still struggle with returning to the normality factor of their life, including if they will be able to rejoin most of their past activities. 

However, one ideal they keep with them always is that family is one of the most crucial things in their lives, especially in these types of situations they said. Family is what they can always rely on.



QuikTrip gift cards

White cereal bowls

Clothes hamper

Schnucks gift cards

Dicks Sporting Goods gift cards


Green swiss carry-on and suitcase

Donations for debt

Helping Hands: The Motorcycle


Elena Sherwood

A run down motorcycle stood in the middle of the mess, its old frame rusting and its seat unused.

They wore a mask. Underneath it their eyes were fixated on a corner of the dimly lit garage, where a mat lay on the floor covered in a variety of tools. A run down motorcycle stood in the middle of the mess, its old frame rusting and its seat unused. No one had noticed it for years. 

No one noticed them either. They sat in the back of their classes and moved between periods like a ghost. They didn’t talk (“it usually wasn’t necessary,” they said) and made their way through life alone.

That changed when they were with motorcycles. This one had been their obsession for weeks — they rushed into that dimly lit garage after school, pulled the mask over their face and worked to repair it. They already spent hours of their day at South Tech learning their craft as a welder. They perfected their craft in this garage. To them, the motorcycle was beautiful.

Unfortunately, it didn’t work.

So they repaired the motorcycle. It still looked old, but in the past few weeks it was looking better. When they first got it they took a clamp, plugged it into the outlet on the wall and grinded away the old weld. The sparks from the melting metal faintly illuminated the room. This process left the metal frame painfully exposed with its old protection gone.

Occasionally, their friends would come by. They had friends in school now; they said high school demanded it. Its collaborative projects forced them to interact with their peers and jolted them from their self-protective shell. Over the course of their freshman year, their shell slowly melted away.

After they cleaned the exposed frame, they used a hot rod to force a new bind onto it. The rod pulsed with electricity as it melted new metal plates onto the motorcycle and sent sparks flying through the room. The welds embraced and strengthened the frame, and they slowly added more.

They made one friend freshman year. Then they made another. They made these friends out of necessity, but as those friends embraced them they grew stronger. They took a chance in removing their old facade, but that facade was replaced by stronger forces: forces of friendship, forces of honesty and forces of people.

It took a while, but they finally completed their motorcycle. It stood waiting in that garage, bolstered by the welds and ready to serve its purpose. They opened their garage door and light from outside flooded in, bathing the room and motorcycle in warmth. Then, they set down the mask and rolled the motorcycle outside.



Target Gift Cards

Amazon Gift Cards

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