A video of Wildwood Police Officer Clearance Allen quickly made its way around Facebook.
Skateboarding through Wildwood’s Commissioners Courts, Allen was back at home. Allen told NBC10 he grew up in the low income area, and frequently returns to hang out with the kids to set an example.
"You don’t have to resort to drugs and violence," Allen said. "You can make something of yourself no matter where you’re from."
Wildwood firefighters were also captured on camera as they hit the streets to pass out their signature head gear to kids around the Wildwood Island.
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The man behind both of these videos? 56 year-old John Lynch.
The outreach efforts stem from his local non-profit, Lunch with Lynch, which strives to improve Wildwood schools and communities. Lunch with Lynch has been relying heavily on the support of local first responders since its inception over 10 years ago.
Lynch started the Lunch with Lynch Foundation in 2006. He was volunteering on his lunch breaks with Read Across America in the lower-income Glenwood Avenue School. Every day, he spent his hour out of the office reading with kids- the majority of whom recieved free and reduced lunches.
With the support of the Cape May County Fraternal Order of Police, Lynch’s organization spread across all six of the island’s schools. He started getting officers and firefighters into schools to talk to kids, and more community events followed.
“It was just meant to be,” Lynch said. “It would not be where it is if it wasn’t for the fact that first responders bought into the program.”
Nonprofit Changes Youth By Teaching Them To u0022Pay It Forwardu0022
Now, Lynch’s outreach efforts include giving $23,000 in scholarships to Wildwood students entering college and proving over $10,000 in grants to the Island School.
Other initiatives include distributing a new book to every kindergarten student on the island, field trips, and even the purchasing of 12 bikes to jumpstart a bike club at a local school.
“It’s a great program to actually get the kids up and active," Officer Allen said.
At its core, Lynch says his foundation teaches kids to ‘pay it forward’ at a young age.
“[The foundation] Inspires kids in the community to dream big, and think about doing things for others. Everything starts with kindness.”