WTOP Top Kid: Bethesda teen serves breakfasts to those in need

Now through Oct. 27, 2023, WTOP is accepting nominations for the WTOP TOP Kids program sponsored by Northwest Federal Credit Union. In addition to being featured on-air and online, winning kids also get a chance at $500.

While many 15-year-olds spend their time hanging out with friends or playing video games on the weekend, Carter Jillings of Bethesda, Maryland, has been spending some of his time helping people in his community experiencing homelessness.

The sophomore at Georgetown Prep has spent several weekends this year volunteering for St. Paul’s Parish’s “Grate Patrol.”

On Saturday mornings, the group of volunteers comes together to bring food to people without homes.

According to the program’s website, Grate Patrol began in 1981 when a parishioner of the church began serving beef soup and bologna sandwiches to homeless individuals seen sleeping on grates. They sleep on grates especially in colder months to keep warm, Jillings explained.

Carter Jillings of Bethesda, Maryland, and another member of his parish’s “Grate Patrol” provide a meal to a person experiencing homelessness at a tent encampment. (Courtesy Jillings)

Jillings said the group now serves breakfast to those in need at tent encampments in the city.

“They’re very nice, very appreciative,” Jillings said.

In addition to the feeling he gets by helping, Jillings said he has also learned from the people he has helped just by listening.

“There’s definitely a lot of interesting stories,” Jillings said.

Jillings’ work in the community has made him a finalist for WTOP Top Kid. The honor comes with a $500 prize. What Jillings plans to do with some of the money might not be a surprise.

“I plan to donate some of it to Grate Patrol to help them, so they can buy breakfasts … for the project that they’re doing,” he said.

He also encourages others to take part in Grate Patrol or donate to the effort, so they can continue serving the meals.

Mike Murillo

Mike Murillo is a reporter and anchor at WTOP. Before joining WTOP in 2013, he worked in radio in Orlando, New York City and Philadelphia.

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