Palmer Trinity School junior Marcos Leon, his twin Lucas and younger brother Rocco make community service a priority. In 2014, they set up their own non-profit organization called Pack of Dogs. And they have been working hard at helping others ever since.
“We are a kids community service task force,” he says. “Our pack helps non-profits achieve their goals throughout the community.”
He says they started The Pack because there were not enough opportunities for young kids to give back to the community. Their mother had been looking for some and when she couldn’t find many, she had a conversation with the three boys.
Traditionally, the kids participate in things like beach clean-ups or they go to nursing homes and talk to the elderly.
“Community service is fun,” he says. “Everyone is excited for the next one.”
But that was before the coronavirus. COVID-19 has brought in-person community service to a screeching halt so Leon and his brothers found a different way to help. Called the “Summer of Love Feeding Tour,” they teamed up with Touching Miami With Love (two locations), the Overtown Youth Center, Big Brothers, Big Sisters and Branches in South Miami to deliver pizzas to the community.
“You can’t say no to pizza,” he says.
Pizza days are conducted twice a month and promoted on Instagram and Snap Chat.
“We served more than 1200 families this summer alone,” he says. “All of our people, everyone orders. We buy pies from Power Pizzeria.”
Those pizzas are loaded into trucks and given to people.
During the pizza drives, the order could be 100-150 pizzas. The kids pick up the pizzas and start delivering them to those who are struggling during the pandemic.
“It’s a lot of fun,” he says. “We had like water balloon fights while giving out pizzas.”
On one occasion they delivered the pizzas in the Overtown area and played basketball with kids at the Overtown Youth Center.
They have served a family of eight that he says look like they have nothing. They usually give families two boxes of pizza. Families that are larger get more pizzas.
They have also delivered pizzas in Homestead.
“We promote it and it’s usually a lot of friends that come together with us to help,” he says.
“We felt like we were so gifted. We felt like we had to give back to the community.”
The teens who volunteer come from many different schools.
“The whole point of ‘The Pack’ is to travel in a ‘pack’ with your friends, making serving fun,” he says.
At Palmer, he is involved in a number of clubs, including Model United Nations, Achieve Miami and Best Buddies. He also plays soccer for Palmer Trinity and is on the school’s football team as kicker. His goal is to become the kicker for the University of North Carolina.
Leon’s college list also includes Babson, New York University, Vanderbilt and the University of Florida. He wants to be a business major.
He says his favorite community service thus far is both Achieve Miami and Pack of Dogs.
“I love being the bigger brother to kids who need assistance in reading and learning in general, and I love doing community service all around, so those are my two favorite community service organizations,” he says.
Achieve Miami is a program at a number of elementary schools around South Florida where teens go to the school a couple of Saturdays a month to help underperforming children improve their reading and writing skills. Leon worked with the program at Caribbean Elementary.
Linda Rodriguez Bernfeld