fcharity_p1An article by Jane Lampman in today’s (11/24) Christian Science Monitor highlights the number of young people doing volunteer work, and helping to make the world a better place.  We never hear, or read, much about these kids on the major media outlets.  The headlines mostly tell stories about problem teens.  I believe the kids I see helping at the shelter I work at are more representative of today’s youth than the ones who grab the headlines.

I have absolutely no doubt that the young people of today are doing far more volunteer work than when I was growing up in the 1950’s.

“The World of Children”, recognizes these contributions, http://www.worldofchildren.org/Home.htm . Their awards, and the stories of the kids getting them, should be in the headlines.

 From the article, http://www.csmonitor.com/2008/1124/p13s01-wmgn.html:

1) Katie Simon, a teenager from Newton, Mass., says a lengthy family trip in the developing world when she was in second grade first opened her eyes. Then, when she heard two years ago about the child sex trade in some of those places, she knew she needed to do something.

“I learned about a rehabilitation center for children in the Philippines and talked with friends about raising $5,000 in a yard sale,” says the 16-year-old. “People thought that was impossible, but we raised $6,500!”

Thrilled with their success, Katie founded an organization, Minga (mingagroup.org), to educate others about the scourge of child sex trafficking and to raise funds to fight it. (Minga is a word in Quechua, a native language of South America, which means “the coming together of a community to work for a common good.”)

So far, Minga has raised $40,000, the rehab center has been completed, and the group is working with other partners in Guatemala, Thailand, and Boston.

Katie spends between 20 and 30 hours a week in the work, and says it’s well worth it: “I’ve discovered my own power to change the world, and have connected to some awesome people. I’ve seen the good side of everybody – it’s amazing.”

Last month, Katie won a Global Action Award given to young leaders by the international relief group Mercy Corps.

2)Talia Leman, an Iowa teen, got her feet wet in philanthropy after hurricane Katrina. At age 10, she started a project called TLC – trick or treat for the levee catastrophe. She wrote a news release on lined paper and sent it to TV stations, urging kids to ask for loose change on Halloween as well as candy. With the help of an adult friend who set up a website, she connected with children in 4,000 school districts across the United States. They raised $10 million, what ABC News said was equal to the giving power of the top five US corporations.

That experience led Talia to create RandomKid, which supports children in the US and elsewhere in carrying out their own project ideas. “When I speak at schools, kids often come up and say, ‘I have this great idea. How can I make it happen?’ ” says Talia, the nonprofit’s CEO. RandomKid has worked with children in 50 states and 20 countries.

Last week, they held an Internet video conference involving schools in five states with the South African entrepreneur who developed the “playpump” system to provide safe water to rural communities. The students had raised enough funds for their second pump. Hearing that, “entrepreneur Trevor Field said he knew of a community in Malawi that desperately needed one, and he’d get moving on it right away,” says Anne Ginther, RandomKid’s president.

On Nov. 13, Talia was recognized for her efforts with an award from World of Children (WOC), which sponsors what some call the Nobel prize for children.