“The greatest use of a life is to spend it on something that will outlast it.” – William James, Philosopher & Psychologist
These days we often look around at the chaos of the world and ask ourselves, “what is the world coming to?” On a daily basis we are exposed to stories about the evil of mankind, man’s inhumanity to man, and we wonder what future generations will be like. Some days it seems as if humanity and compassion are destined to become a thing of the past. So when a story about a young person doing good things crossed my path, I was encouraged and went in search of more. Today’s post is but a small sampling of what I found, and I am encouraged … I hope you will be too.
Thomas Ponce is sixteen years old and already has a number of projects under his belt. He is the founder of Lobby For Animals, the Coordinator for Fin Free FL, and founder of Harley’s Home, which is used as his school-based animal rights club. A vegetarian at age of 4, he began writing about animal rights at the age of 5. Soon after, Thomas’s parents realized that his advocacy for animals was not a phase, but a way of life.
“I feel that it is our responsibility as both citizens and human beings to use our minds, hearts and voices to speak up against the injustices we see in the world.”
Somebody raised this kid right! There is so much to say about young Mr. Ponce, and he has done so much in his short lifetime, that I cannot possibly cover all his good works here.
At age 12, he was awarded a $1,000 grant by The Pollination Project , an organization that makes seed grants to individuals who seek to spread compassion in their communities and in the world for the benefit of all. With help from his mentor, animal rights attorney Jessica Astrof, Thomas launched Lobby for Animals, an on line lobbying and education resource for animal rights activists to come together and make their voices heard. Take a minute to visit the website … it is extremely well-done and contains tons of information, not only about animal rights, but also about climate change and other issues affecting our world today.
“I am starting the project because I am passionate about protecting animal rights. I am also just as passionate about educating as many people as I can about ways that they can make a difference in their own lives, as well as in the lives of the countless animals that are suffering on factory farms, in laboratories, and in animal entertainment. I know that this is the purpose of my life. I am here to make a difference, and I won’t stop until I do. I know this project will be a success because I will make it a success.”
Thomas’ other two projects, Fin Free FL and Harley’s Home are equally admirable, though on a slightly smaller scale. This kid is 16 … just 16 years old … and look what he has accomplished in so few years! He puts me to shame! I cannot even begin to imagine the mark he will have made on this world by the time he is 30!
To read more about young Thomas, check out Thomas Ponce: On Behalf of All Living Beings
Four years ago, Bailey Chance’s grandmother, Nancy Geren, taught her then 9-year-old granddaughter to sew. Little did she know how Bailey would turn her newfound skill into something for the benefit of others. In the four years since learning to sew, Bailey has sewn more than 100 dresses … but not for herself. She has made the dresses and donated them all to an organization called Dress a Girl Around the World, a part of non-profit Hope 4 Women International. The dresses Bailey makes will go to places like Haiti, where girls have survived natural disasters and lost everything. The organization brings them hope. “Their goal is to help girls in poverty all around the world. They work with 82 different countries,” said Bailey.
Last year, Bailey made hospice baskets with spa cloths, bath salts and soap, and gave them to nurses and patients at a local hospice. Now 13 years of age, Bailey wants to inspire other young people to give of themselves: “ … no matter how young you are, you can change the world a little at a time. You don’t have to do it big – that no matter how small, you’re always helping someone.”
13-year-old Erin Byrnes of Syracuse, New York, had worked hard collecting cans and bottles for months, and finally she had earned $200 for her efforts. What did she do with her earnings? She bought 60 tickets for the annual Joseph’s House car raffle. Joseph’s House is a home that offers mothers and pregnant women a place where they can live, raise their children and get parenting help. The goal of the home is to prevent abortions by giving women and children a safe place to live.
So on the night of the raffle, with her 60 tickets out of the 26,000 sold, the winning ticket was announced and … WOW … Erin won a completely loaded, brand-new Chevrolet Tahoe, valued at $70,000! Now what, you may ask, does a 13-year-old do with an SUV? She donates it right back to Joseph’s House, of course! That same night, Erin also received an award for her volunteer work at Joseph’s House. Every Thursday night, she goes there to take care of the babies and do chores around the rambling house where the women and children live.
Though Erin’s parents, with five other children and an older model car, could have used the SUV, they told her it was entirely her choice and they supported her decision. Great parents raise great kids, yes? For her next project, Erin wants to raise more money to buy Christmas presents for the moms at Joseph’s House.
Last August, 9-year-old Emma Burkhart of Durant, Oklahoma, just happened to receive two of the exact same blanket as birthday presents. It happens … and blankets are pretty useful things overall … I have 3 or 4 on my bed. But Emma decided that one such blanket was enough, and she gave the other away to a needy child. Then she thought about all the needy children in her community and with a bit of help from her mother, started the Keep Kids Warm Blanket Drive. By Christmas, Emma and friends had collected some 200 blankets that went to three local organizations — Families Feeding Families Christmas Program, Adopt-a-Block Program and Student Assistance Program — and were distributed to kids who needed them.
These are just a few of the many kids who are making small contributions, granted, but they are small people without many resources. What they are doing, though, is proving that their hearts are in the right place, and I am predicting that each of these young people will grow up to be the kind of caring, giving people this world needs more of. I was deeply appreciative and inspired by each of these stories, and even more so by the fact that as I traveled through the Internet in search of them, I came across so many inspiring stories of kids who are giving and caring that it was difficult to choose only a few. I think the moral of this post, if it must have one, is that even those who have very little can make a big difference in the world. And there are some awesome kids out there!