Last Wednesday, I highlighted a man (Steven Culbertson) and his organization (Youth Service America – YSA), and I promised to come back this week to highlight just a few of the kids and projects this wonderful organization has helped launch. I am so encouraged when I see these young people, read about how they see it as their responsibility to help others, help the environment. The first young man I would like to introduce you to is one that Mr. Culbertson mentioned last week, Jackson Silverman. Jackson got his start in philanthropy, with the help of YSA, at age 12! I will let Jackson tell you a bit about it …
“My brothers and I are lucky. When we get hungry, we know that we will get fed. But not every kid is so lucky. A kid doesn’t have a lot of choice about hunger. A kid can’t make their own money or buy their own food or cook their own dinner. Kids who are thinking about food don’t do as well in school or have the energy to do kid things like run on the playground. In Charleston County alone, over 16,000 kids go hungry every weekend. That is a horrible number and my goal is to feed every last kid!
In April 2013, my brothers and I launched I Heart Hungry Kids because I believe that kids can change the world! We started out with 25 kids packing 150 bags of food and three years later we pack 2,500 bags of food with 150 kid volunteers every month during the school year – that’s over 10,000 meals at each Packing Party!
We have incredible partners like the Lowcountry Food Bank and Sodexo and I am so grateful for their support. I am also amazed by the thousands of kid volunteers who have come out to pack bags of food to help make better lives for other kids. Together we have packed over 175,000 bags of food using kid power, and we are just getting started!”
And if that isn’t enough … check out this video from his talk at TedX-Charleston … I fell in love with this kid!
Check out the I 💓 Hungry Kids website for more about what these young people are doing!
Even when I was growing up in the 1950s, there was a disconnect between kids and police in the inner-cities, but over the last half-century, it has become a much bigger problem. Most cities in the U.S. are using community policing, a type of police work that focuses on police officers consistently working within the same communities so that police officers are able to build individual relationships with community members. Through relationship building, there is a higher level of community trust and respect amongst officers and individuals living within these communities.
Meet Miguel Coppedge, age 12, of Washington, D.C. Miguel is taking an active role in working with police and emergency workers, and bringing them together with the neighborhood youth. He is working towards finding a solution to the lack of trust between police officers and community members. At the same time, Miguel is trying to increase the number of communities that use community policing methods.
Miguel has written and published three books (remember this kid is only 12!!!), the third titled Friendly Officers that discusses building relationships with police. In February, Miguel brought together a group of kids from the neighborhood and a group of police officers. Miguel told those gathered for the program, “I wanted children, especially those with my skin color, to know that police officers are here to help you.” The officers Miguel counts as his friends were featured in Friendly Officers.Miguel was featured in the Metro Police Law Enforcement Magazine in February. He has visited schools and camps to do book readings, speak with peers and the police, and discuss ways to improve trust and relationships between communities, children, and the police. And he has done a PSA (Public Service Announcement). Take a look …
Brianna Jack has always loved to read. In fact, she loves it so much that when she was only 7-years-old, she started a weekly ‘story time’ at her public library and read to children in her town of Baileyville, Maine. Then one day she found out that fully 60% of children in North America do not have books in their homes (this statistic floors me, for I cannot imagine a home without books!), and Brianna set out to do something about that! At age nine, Brianna started her own nonprofit organization called Maine Books for Maine Kids to encourage children to develop a love of reading and have access to books. One of the first contributors to her cause was none other than the master of horror, Stephen King, who lived nearby and was impressed enough to donate $5,000.
Three years ago, Brianna moved, along with her family, to Upper Queensbury, Canada, but her work didn’t stop, for she almost immediately began helping youth in Canada by creating a second organization, Brianna’s Bookworms. Brianna has now donated books in both the United States and Canada. She has held over 150 story time sessions and donated over 8,000 books. She does not plan to stop there; her goal is to donate books to kids all over the world to ensure that all children have access to age-appropriate reading materials in their homes. Regardless of country of origin, Brianna feels inspired to help all children.
Brianna has held several book drives to involve others in her organization’s mission. Instead of throwing out gently used books, people in both the United States and Canada have been able to donate their books to Brianna so she can make sure they get into the hands of the children that need them most. Over the past five years, she has impacted many children’s lives by providing them the opportunity to read at home every day. Her passion and drive has given so many kids access to one of life’s most important skills: reading.
More and more we are seeing young people getting involved with helping others, cleaning up the environment, marching and protesting for just causes … in short, just working toward a goal of making the world a little better place. These kids are an inspiration to us all. Their contributions today may seem small, but their hearts are huge, and they are starting life out on the right foot. My hat is off to all of them, as well as the many others out there making a difference. Great job, kids!